We have a good friend, Roger, who was born in South Africa of Hungarian parents, and therefore grew up immersed in an amalgam of food heritages.
He speaks–rhapsodically–of Peri-Peri Prawns, jumbo crustaceans caught in the Indian Ocean, spiced and grilled in a sweet-hot Portuguese-Mozambique meld…
… and, in turn, of traditional Eastern European dishes: hearty gulyas, savory stews infused with true Hungarian paprika—soul-stirring fare that speaks of Franz Liszt and gypsy violins and bleak romantic countryside rolling along the Danube.
Early in the summer, Roger gave me a bag of The Real Deal, which is what you must have in order to create this rich and rustic cuisine. Most paprika that we find at the grocery is flavorless, and used only for a dash of color over deviled eggs and such. Look for Hungarian on the label.
I have been waiting for the right time to put this Paprika to good use—so that I can say Paprikash! with bravado—I love the sound and rhythm of the word. This meant waiting for Tennessee warm weather to shift.
November: The time for Chicken Paprikash! has arrived.
It gave me the chance to do a little research. I found the most intriguing information from Marc of NoRecipes .
Marc has a great foodblog, and his story about Japanese and Magyar/Hungarian languages running parallel root lines is fascinating. I also appreciated some of his recipe tips (even though it’s a “no recipe” recipe site) and adapted my recipe from his.
There are not many ingredients—it’s really how they are prepared that makes the difference. Browning the chicken well, with salt, pepper, and paprika helps to form a flavor-packed foundation for the Paprikash. Cooking the peppers and onions with the browned bits left in the pot from the chicken lends a richer, deeper note to the stew.
2-3 Bone-in, skin-on Chicken Breasts
Salt and Black Pepper
2 large Onions, chopped
2 Red or Yellow Bell Peppers, diced
2 Banana Peppers or 1 Poblano Pepper, diced
1/3 cup Hungarian Paprika
1 1/4 cup Vegetable Stock (or chicken stock)
1 cup Sour Cream
In a large skillet on medium heat, slowly brown the seasoned chicken breasts (dusted with salt, pepper, paprika) in some olive oil, taking care to brown all sides.
Remove the chicken and add diced peppers and onions. Sauté until soft and somewhat caramelized, scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan left from the chicken.
Pour in vegetable stock (or chicken stock, if that’s what you have.)
Add the paprika, and stir until it is well mixed. Return the chicken breasts and braise for 30 minutes or so.
Remove the breasts, discard the skin, and pull the meat off the bones. Cut into bite sized cubes and return to the skillet. Fold in the sour cream and continue simmering. Taste, and adjust for seasoning. Serves 4.
Lovely over egg noodles! Paprikash!
The whole chicken breasts,smothered, simmer in the paprika-infused broth (which the paprika causes to thicken.)
The meat is pulled off the bone, cut into chunks, and returned to the stew. At this point, the sour cream is folded in, and gently warmed.
The chicken will continue to cook.
There, I have said it enough.
Savory-sweet, with a little heat, this is comforting, cold weather food: delicious over egg noodles, garnished with fresh chives and dillweed.