Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pride of Szeged

Let me make one thing clear: I have never had Hungarian food. I don't know what Goulash is, and my only frame of reference for Chicken Paprika is from When Harry Met Sally ("Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash"). I have no idea what Chicken Paprika is supposed to taste like. But I made it tonight, and it was pretty excellent, authentic or not.

Taking advice from my friend Jonny, I made the version from the 75th anniversary edition of Joy of Cooking. It was easy to prepare and didn't require many ingredients: paprika, garlic, a bay leaf, onions, sour cream and chicken. The trickiest part was thinly slicing three cups of onions. I used Pride of Szeged Hungarian Hot Paprika, which is delicious, though spicy. So I substituted about half of the recommended quarter-cup with regular McCormick paprika. It turned out fine, and swirling sour cream into the sauce at the end softened the spice somewhat.

Also at Jonny's suggestion, I made dumplings--another first for this Italian-American. Light and fluffy, akin to matzo balls, they were the perfect complement to the chicken. They served as a kind of stand-in to rice, helping us sop up the hot sauce and straggling shoelaces of onion. Who's Hungary?--S

Chicken Paprika (Paprikas Csirke)
serves 4

1. Season 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 lbs chicken parts generously with salt and black pepper.
2. Heat 2 T butter in a wide heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken without crowding and cook, turning once, until golden, about 5 min. per side. Remove the chicken to a plate and brown the remaining chicken.
3. Add 3 c. very thinly sliced onions to the fat in the skillet. Reduce the heat slightly and cook, stirring, until the onions begin to color, about 10 min.
4. Sprinkle with 1/4 c sweet paprika, 2 T minced garlic, 1 bay leaf, 1/2 t salt and 1/2 t black pepper. Also add 1 1/2 c chicken stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Return the chicken, with any accumulated juices, to the skillet. Reduce the heat so that the liquid barely bubbles, cover, and cook, turning the chicken once or twice, until a thigh registers 180 degrees F on a thermometer, 20 to 30 min.
5. Remove the chicken to a platter and cover to keep warm. Discard the bay leaf. Let the sauce stand briefly, then skim the fat off the surface with a spoon. Boil the sauce over high heat until very thick, almost pasty.
6. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in 1 to 1 1/2 c sour cream. Return the sauce to high heat and boil until thickened.
7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and several drops of fresh lemon juice. Pour sauce over chicken and serve.


1. Whisk together 1 c cake flour, 2 t baking powder and 1/2 t salt.
2. Break an egg into a 1-cup measure. Add milk until the cup is half full. Beat well and stir the liquid slowly into the dry ingredients. Add more milk if necessary but keep the batter as stiff as possible.
3. Optional: add 1/4 c finely chopped parsley or 1 T fresh chopped herbs or 1/2 t grated onion.
4. Bring 2 or 3 cups stock or broth just to a boil in a large saucepan.
5. To drop dumpling batter from a spoon easily, dip the spoon in stock first; then dip the spoon in the batter, fill it, and drop the batter into the stock. Continue doing this until the dumplings are barely touching.
6. Cover the pot and simmer 10 minutes. Dumplings should be served at once.

Recipes courtesy of Joy of Cooking

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I made this recipe for the first time last night, and wondered why it said "bring to a boil" when there wasn't much liquid. Checking on the web, I find there is an errata for my edition of Joy, and the recipe should say, when you add the spices, to also add 1 1/2 cups chicken stock.