Hungarian Chicken Paprikas
And so continues our Hungarian saga. If you know anything about Hungary, you know that they are famous for Paprika. This was not always the case, as the pepper plants from which paprika is made were only introduced to Hungary in the 17th century…still, a pretty long time ago. The title “Paprika Capital” is fought out between Szeged and Kalocsa, both towns in the southern part of the country. Escoffier, the famous French chef, introduced Paprika to the rest of Europe late in the 18th century through his cooking in Paris’ The Grand Hotel.
Paprika, a spice used regularly in the US is actually quite finicky, if you are to get the full flavor and color. To use it properly, you should observe the following cautions:
- When adding paprika to a dish that you are cooking, remove the pot from the heat before adding the paprika and make sure the paprika is completely combined with the other ingredients. This is important because, due to it’s high sugar content, it burns easily and takes on an unattractive brown color and bitter flavor. Once the paprika is mixed it, you can return the pot to the heat and continue cooking.
- Paprika sprinkled on food, will brighten the color, but do little for the flavor. The flavor(and color) is released in hot fat. So if you want to add it to prepared food, stir the powder in a bit of hot oil first.
- Paprika will last stored in a cool dark place for 8 months. It is still fine to use after 8 months, but it will gradually lose flavor and color.
There are many types of paprika-all from the same pepper plants. The difference is in the grinding-amount of seeds added to the ground peppers, are the stems are added, the fineness or coarseness of the grind all contribute to the kind of paprika that results. Here are just some of the different types I encountered: special, mild, delicates, sweet, semisweet, rose, hot, smoked, smoked hot. Of course, I came home with several pounds of the stuff-hot, mild, smoked ,smoked hot
I used a combination of sweet and hot paprika in this famous Hungarian dish, Paprikas Csirke, or Chicken Paprikas. Traditionally, this dish is made with cut up whole chicken-bone in, but for ease of eating, nothing beats boneless chicken breasts.
- I-2 ½ lb chicken, cut into 6 pieces or 2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut in 1/2 and/or thighs.
- Flour for dredging
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 ½ TBL. canola oil
- 1 heaped TBL. ground paprika
- Kosher salt
- 2 large red bell peppers, seeded and sliced into rings
- 22 large plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
- 1 C. sour cream
- 1 TBL flour
Heat a heavy skillet with the oil on medium high.
Add the onions and gently cook, stirring until translucent.
Take the pan off the heat, add the paprika and stir until completely combined.
Dredge the chicken breasts in flour, shaking off the excess.
Turn up the heat, add the chicken to the onions and fry over high heat for 3 minutes, turning once.
Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Cover tightly, lower the heat to low and cook for 8 minutes (or 10 minutes if using bone-in chicken).
Add the peppers and tomatoes to the chicken and cover. Cook for about another 8 minutes (or 10 minutes if using bone-in chicken), shaking occasionally until done. Ideally the chicken should cook in its’ own juices, but if you think it will burn add a tablespoon or two of water.
Stir 1 TBL. of flour into the sour cream. Remove the chicken to a plate and add the sour cream mixture to the pan with the peppers and stir to combine. Put the chicken and any accumulated juices back in the pan, cover and cook at a simmer for another 4-5 minutes.
Serve with Nokedli, the Hungarian version of spätzle. Recipe: https://www.kieffers.com/kieffers-cooking-blog/spatzle-pasta-the-german-way
Jό Eszik! (Good Eating)