Csirkepaprikás (Chicken Paprikash)
(Pronunciation: “Cheer-keh Paw-pree-cash”)
I have a feeling somebody out there was waiting for this one. “Hey, this guy does Hungarian recipes! Where’s the friggen’ chicken puh-pree-kash?!!!”
Well sir, here it is. Delayed because I like coming up with the best recipes ever before releasing them, and to be honest, this did take me awhile to make exceptionally tasty… I’ve tried several other people’s recipes, most of which were simply waaaay too bland for my tastes. And while drumsticks may look the best presentation-wise, they simply aren’t meaty enough.
So no drumsticks, or at least I don’t like to use them. I prefer to use a whole chicken then grabbing a leg for myself, or I’ll just eat the entire chicken myself if I’m insanely hungry that day, and I have eaten an entire chicken’s worth of paprikash with 800 grams of nokedli in one sitting before (ask me about my inhumane appetite later). Using just the legs (drumstick and thigh included) is second best, but whatever cut of chicken you use, make sure it has bones and skin attached. Yes, bones good! Add good flavour to sauce they do! Skin you can easily take off before serving, and I usually do, but just keep them on as they cook and your paprikash will be 10x tastier.
The other thing a lot of people do wrong when cooking this dish is they don’t initially sear the chicken before simmering. Do not skip this step! It is important to seal in the chicken’s juices and flavour before it simmers in that sauce! Pretty much every recipe I see just says “oh yeah just throw the chicken in the stew pot and simmer there mmm it’s yummy”. No, it really isn’t. I tried without searing once and it tasted like nothing. So sear the goddamn meat. This dish consists of BRAISED, and NOT STEWED chicken!!!!!!!!! DO YOU NOT KNOW HOW TO BRAISE?!!!!!!!!!
Anyways, back on topic… You can safely use olive oil to sear the meat, since it’s only going to be cooking briefly at high temperatures and smoking isn’t going to be that big of an issue. You can use our traditional nonhydrogenated lard for this, and if you read my other recipes you’ll see how often I recommend cooking with lard, but for this, I actually prefer to use olive oil, so take that into consideration when choosing your fat.
Now, the cooking pan. I like to use a large, wide, and flat sauté pan with a lid for this which will allow the chicken to simmer evenly in the liquid with the vegetables, so for best results use that, but a wok would work just fine too.
As for the vegetables… since we don’t really see them served in the dish, there’s no point in chopping them small. Keep them in large chunks so we can easily strain them out before adding the sour cream.
The side for this? Don’t be lazy; make some fresh nokedli. It’s easy as hell. Why are you still buying dry egg noodles? Get a nokedli-maker, it’s pretty cheap.
Ingredients (Serves ~4)
4 chicken legs, or 1 whole chicken
1 cup chicken stock or water
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tbsp flour
2 brown onions
1 bell pepper
4 garlic cloves
2 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika*
1 tsp marjoram
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
For the nokedli (makes 4 servings)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups water (to start, add up to another 1/4 cup if needed)
1/2 tsp salt
1. Prep work: Add chicken to a large mixing bowl. If you’re using a whole chicken, separate the legs, breasts and wings, and add those to the mixing bowl, keeping the remainder of the chicken to make stock. In a smaller bowl, mix together your spices: salt, pepper, marjoram, and paprika. Sprinkle it all over the chicken, and give it a good toss in that spice mixture making sure the surface area of all the chicken is fully coated. Set aside.
2. Chop your veggies, but keep it rustic; cut onions, bell peppers and tomatoes into big chunks, and simply peel the garlic cloves keeping them whole.
3. In a large flat-bottomed sauté pan, heat up your olive oil on high heat. Sear the chicken pieces for about 1-2 minutes on each side or until they get some nice colour on them, then remove them with a pair of tongs and set them aside back into your mixing bowl.
4. Turn the heat down to medium, then add in your chopped onions into the same bowl. Stir the onions for a bit, letting the juices of the onions deglaze the fond a little bit. Then, add your cup of chicken stock (and if you made the chicken stock yourself using the spine of the chicken, you have my respect) completely deglazing the bottom of the pan, giving it a good scrape with a wooden spoon making sure all that flavourful fond gets incorporated into the liquid.
5. Add your chopped tomato, bell pepper, and garlic. At this point you can add your chicken pieces back into the pan, along with any accumulating juices at the bottom of the mixing bowl. It’s full of flavour, don’t waste it. Bring the sauté pan up to a simmer, then turn the heat down to low and simmer covered for 30 to 45 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through. I like to check my chicken after 30 minutes and give it a flip so that both sides get a taste of that liquid.
While the chicken simmers, we can start making the nokedli.
6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Whisk together 3/4 cup water, salt, and eggs in a mixing bowl.
7. Slowly add in the flour, whisking until there are no lumps left.
8. Slowly whisk in a tiny bit more water if necessary, but it probably won’t be. It should be much thicker than crêpe batter, but not as thick as bread dough.
9. Add the mixture to the pan through a nokedli-maker.
10. Scoop nokedli out of the water in batches and add them to a strainer, pouring cold water over them immediately to cool them down and stop them from over-cooking.
11. Drain and wait for them to dry.
12. Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the chicken pieces with your tongs from the liquid and set aside, again.
13. Pour the meat juice from the sauté pan through a strainer or colander into another mixing bowl to filter out the veggies, and feel free to snack on them.
14. In yet another mixing bowl, albeit a smaller one, whisk together your flour and sour cream. Slowly add a little bit of your cooling meat juices from the mixing bowl into your sour cream flour mixture, whisking until their are no lumps left, and your mixture is liquidy in consistency. Once you’re confident the sour cream won’t curdle, pour the sour cream mixture into the rest of the cooling meat juices and give it a good whisk until it’s homogeneous.
15. Add the sauce we’ve just created back into the sauté pan, along with your chicken pieces (and any accumulating juices, as always) and cook on medium-high, just to heat up and thicken the sauce and flavour the chicken a little.
16. Once sauce is reduced to your desired consistency, remove from heat, remove chicken pieces from the liquid and set aside, again. Adjust seasoning of the sauce; you probably won’t need to add more salt, but taste and adjust, just to be safe.
17. To serve; portion nokedli out onto a plates, top with a piece of chicken or let whomever you’re serving grab whichever part of the chicken they want removing the skin as needed, and pour as much of the sauce over the nokedli and chicken as desired. You should have about 2 cups of sauce, and I like to portion out 1/2 cup per person. Top with a dallop of sour cream, and Italian parsley for garnish.
18. Be a barbarian and eat with your hands. There’s really no easier way to enjoy chicken if the bone’s still attached. (´･ω･`)
*This means regular paprika with a bit of a sweet taste, as opposed to Spanish paprika which is more smokey.
If you have leftovers, I like to store the nokedli, chicken, and sauce in separate containers. Keep in mind the sauce will thicken in the fridge, kind of like aspic, so reheating in the microwave may be necessary.
Other notes were basically already addressed in the introduction, so give that a read, if you’d please.
(csirke, paprikas, paprikás, csirkepaprikas)