Sunday, January 28, 2007

Gizi's Chicken Paprikash

I once spent a weekend at the farm with Gizi, learning how to cook a number of her Hungarian dishes.

Gizi 1937

Chicken Paprikash was her specialty.

I have tried other recipes for chicken paprikash and tried little changes to this recipe, but I always come back to the way Gizi showed me. It's definitely more tomato-y than most recipes, but I really think it's the best - the sauce is delicious. It's even good the second time around, so don't be afraid of having leftovers.

Gizi's Chicken Paprikash

Serves 4

6 chicken drumsticks and 6 chicken thighs (or any combination of the two), skin and fat removed
About 3 tablespoons oil (I use grapeseed or olive oil)
2 green peppers, cut into strips
Lots of diced onion - depending on the size, I use 1-1/2 to 2 large onions
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce or 2 cups of plain homemade tomato sauce
1 cup of chicken broth
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
Salt to taste
¼ cup heavy cream
Sour cream for the table, for people to dollop on the finished dish to taste

I like chicken cooked all the way through, but I don't want it to start shredding in this recipe, so I am careful not to overcook it.  I find three pieces usually makes one serving.  I cook the sauce with heavy cream, which will not curdle, rather than sour cream, which does.  Diners can add dollops of sour cream to their own portions at the table if they choose to.

Use a pan that will later hold all the ingredients with the chicken in a single layer.

Sauté the diced onion in the oil until the onion starts to turn gold; however, do not let it brown. Add the paprika, and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute, allowing the paprika to bloom but making sure it does not burn.

To avoid splattering, turn off the heat, and add the tomato sauce. Then pour the chicken broth into the tomato sauce can or the cup the homemade tomato sauce is in (to get all the tomato sauce out of the can or cup), and add the chicken broth to the pot.

Turn the heat back on, bring to a boil, and lower heat to a simmer. Taste for salt. You may not need any because of any salt that may have been in the tomato sauce and/or chicken broth.

Add the chicken pieces and submerge (they will float up – that’s okay) in the sauce. (Note that I do not sauté the chicken pieces first.) Then strew the strips of green pepper over the ingredients in the pan. Do not stir them in at this point. Put a cover on the pan, and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring after the first 20 minutes to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan .

At the end you want the sauce to be thick enough to coat a spoon, like heavy cream. If it isn't, you can thicken it with a slurry made of water and flour or heavy cream and flour. However, I don’t usually do this because using the flour makes the color of the sauce too light. So if it isn't thick enough toward the end of cooking (and it often isn't), I remove the chicken to a plate, set it aside, and turn the heat up under the pan to reduce some of the liquid until the sauce reaches the consistency I want.

While I'm reducing the sauce is the point at which I add the heavy cream and keep reducing. When the sauce is as thick as I want it, I put the chicken back in the pan, and cook it just long enough to get hot again. Turn off the heat.

Diners can add dollops of sour cream at the table, stirring it in to create a marbled effect..

Print recipe

I always serve this with buttered Spaetzle.

buttered green beans, and Cucumber Salad.

Buttered green peas are good with it too.

The best dessert is a fruit/cake thing. Marian Burros' Original Plum Torte topped with lightly whipped heavy cream or Linzertorte are especially good.

Plum Torte


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