Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christina's Kitchen in Budapest: Chicken Paprikas

Before I moved to Budapest, I knew very little about Hungarian food. Goulash? Had it once. Chicken paprikas? Wasn't that from a scene in "When Harry Met Sally"?
I did a little research before coming here to join my boyfriend on his Fulbright Teacher Exchange, and what I'd learned was 1) I might be eating a lot of paprika 2) I'd definitely being eating a lot of pastries. Not sure what to expect, I arrived open-minded, but still I packed a gallon-sized baggie full of my favorite spices (garam masala, anise seed, cardamom pods) just in case.
I needn't have worried. For my first dinner in Hungary, my boyfriend cooked me chicken paprikas, and I loved it. It's the first Hungarian dish either of us has learned to make, and we've been making it every week or two ever since. The recipe we use for our chicken paprikas (pronounced "POP-ree-kosh") was adapted from this one on the BBC Web site.
(BTW, "paprika" in Hungarian refers to any kind of pepper, hot or bell.)
While you can serve chicken paprikas alone or over rice or noodles, it's traditially (and deliciously) served here in Hungary over nokedli, which are small noodles or dumplings sometimes referred to as spaetzle. It's easy to find nokedli in the supermarket here, but making them is easy, too, especially if you have a spaetzle maker. It doesn't get much simpler than this nokedli recipe, which I've also included below.

For the chicken paprikas:
1 chicken, skinned and jointed, or about two pounds of skinless, boneless chicken breast or thighs
oil and/or butter for the pan
1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoons sweet powdered paprika
1 tablespoon hot powdered paprika (you can substitute this with a finely-chopped fresh hot pepper, using the seeds depending on how much heat you like)
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup chicken stock
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 red or yellow peppers, de-seeded and cut into 1/2 inch strips
4 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
1/2 to 1 cup sour cream, to taste

1. Salt the chicken pieces, heat the oil in a large frying pan and brown the chicken pieces, then set the chicken aside.
2. Using the same pan, add the onions and garlic and stir on medium heat about 5 minutes.
3. Then, stirring frequently, mix in the powdered paprika and flour, then the stock, chicken, half the parsley and the fresh peppers. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer about 10 minutes.
4. Now, add the tomatoes and simmer for about an hour. You can add another tablespoon of sweet paprika about 15 minutes before the hour is up if you like a lot of pepper flavor; otherwise, just simmer for sixty minutes or until the chicken is nice and tender.
5. In the meantime, prepare the nokedli (recipe below).
6. When the chicken is done, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the sour cream and remaining parsley. You can either add the nokedli to the pan and stir to combine it with the chicken paprikas, or you can pour the chicken and sauce over nokedli in bowls or plates.

For the nokedli:
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
2 cups flour

1. Whisk together the eggs, salt and water.
2. Gradually add the flour until you have a sticky dough.
3. Let the mixture sit 10 minutes, and boil a pot of salted water.
4. Beat the mixture again, then form the nokedli: If you have a spaetzle maker, use it to form small pieces of dough and drop them directly in the water. Otherwise, use a teaspoon to form tiny balls of dough, or push the dough through a coarse cheese grater, colander or slotted spoon and drop them in the boiling water. When the nokedli rise to the surface of the water, they're cooked. You'll probably want to work in batches.
5. Scoop the nokedli out of the pot and rinse in a colander under cold water, then serve with the paprikas.

If you make enough for leftovers, and you give the flavors a chance to mingle overnight in the fridge, a little reheated chicken paprikas topped with a fried egg makes a spicy, satisfying breakfast.

(Bottom photo by Jay Dater)

Chicken Paprika on Foodista


1 comment:

  1. this is wonderful. It sounds so good, I will have to make it soon. Also, as always, I enjoy reading everything you write.


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