Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chicken Paprikash

There has been a lot of travel happening, with more to come, so that means not much cooking. Monday night, after we had spent a long weekend out of town, R. cooked Chicken Paprikash. We actually bought the ingredients the week before but didn't have a chance to make it. The chicken was in the freezer, but I moved it to the refrigerator Sunday night when we got home. That's me, always thinking ahead.

I haven't had Chicken Paprikash before, and, in fact, R. is the only person I've ever heard say "paprikash." I would have just called it Chicken Paprika. But it's his father's recipe, not mine, and he has some Hungarian heritage and I don't, so what do I know.

No recipe for this meal because it was all in R.'s head and only required one phone call. Well, two calls because his parents weren't home so he called his sister. I can tell you this meal involved bacon, chicken drumsticks (he had been looking for thighs but couldn't find the right kind), onion, paprika (I want to say he used a combination of sweet and smoked), sour cream, and cute little home-made dumplings. I have links to 4 recipes I found online, none of which match what I remember from his. I don't think he used any tomato paste, but since I wasn't home for the start of the cooking, I can't say for sure. I can say I did not see any tomato paste cans on the counter. He cooked some rice to go with it since it's a soupy dish. I would have thought noodles, but again, it's not my recipe.

It was a very good dinner but perhaps a bit large for two people. We are still eating it. I had it Monday night and Tuesday for lunch and will have it again today (although with noodles this time because we did run out of rice). He had it Monday and yesterday. We will probably eat it tonight, which will exceed my quota for number of times I'll eat the same meal in a week (3). We need to finish it before leaving town Thursday night as I don't think it will keep that well over the weekend.

Four examples of chicken paprikash recipes, none of which were actually used:
one, two, three, four.

1 comment:

  1. O.k.

    Here is how it is done. All four of the recipes you found are trash by comparison (seriously, the first three are really gross--boneless, skinless chicken breast?! Cornstarch to thicken?!). What you will need is:

    6 pieces of thick-cut smoked bacon.

    Two large yellow onions.

    2 Lbs chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, bones and skins intact.


    Wine, preferably something you'd like to drink later.


    12 Oz. Sour Cream

    Salt, Black Pepper, Paprika (preferably smoked)

    1. Cut the bacon all at once into 1 cm strips with kitchen shears, and render the fat in a nonstick dutch oven on medium low heat.

    2. Move the bacon bits to the edges of the pot so they don't scorch, turn up the heat, and brown the chicken. Give the chicken pieces plenty of time to brown before you flip 'em to brown the other side. This is sloooww food. While this is happening, Dice the onions, and put a tea kettle full of cold water on to boil.

    3. Turn the heat back down, drain off at least half the accumulated chicken/bacon grease, and add the onions. Stir from time to time, until the onions are translucent.

    4. Turn the heat back up (yes, I know...hope your stove-dial-turning hand isn't in a cast or anything...), add 3ish tblsp. flour and stir it in. Continue to stir, and brown the onions a little while you make a roux.

    5. Deglaze the stuck bits, which should be plentiful by now even with a nonstick pot, with about half a cup of wine. Don't add too much wine, unless you change your mind at this point and decide that you'd really rather make coq au vin. Let the alcohol boil off for a minute or two, and then pour in boiling water from the tea kettle until it covers the chicken by at least 1 cm. More is ok too. The sauce is going to be super-creamy and concentrated anyway, so a little more water won't hurt. Turn the heat up to boil, and cover the pot.

    6. Add paprika. This kind of depends on your preference, but in general I'd recommended 4 tablespoons of sweet paprika, but only a maximum of 3 tablespoons of smoked paprika, if your using smoked. Between the paprika and the smoke from the bacon, this will be pretty intense. My Hungarian grandmother Margaret Kertesz might be rolling over somewhere as I write this, but I think it's smoked (Spanish) paprika that makes this recipe better than any paprikas a family member has cooked for me yet.

    7. Break a couple eggs and slowly add flour until you really can't add any more flour and still call the substance you're working with "dough." Don't try to add a lot of flour at once, or you'll end up like me, having to add another egg to my dough-crumbles. I also discovered when doing this part that a mixer really won't work. Seriously, this is Tortoise food. I ended up having to copy my dad and knead with my hands. Thinning out the dough, dusting some more flour on it, then folding it and making it thin again repeatedly is the way to go, and is what I'll do when I cook this for Emily next time...

    8. Pinch of delicate little nubbins of dough and toss them in the scalding water. They'll emerge re-born as yummy dumplings.

    9. Boil for as long as your stomach can bear it, then turn down the heat and add the sour cream, mixing it in until smooth. Add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Seriously, this recipe needs salt, at least a teaspoon. The bacon does not have enough.

    10. Serve over buttery mashed potatoes.

    A final note. Between the sour cream, the flour in the roux, and the gelatin in the chicken bones, the gravy in this recipe with be plenty thick. So don't be surprised when the leftovers turn into a gelatinous solid in your fridge. That's ok! Just think of it like a demi-glace. It re-liquifies when you heat it, and tastes even yummier on the second day.