Paprikash is a delicious stew-like dish from Hungary, with a centuries old history. The main flavoring ingredient of the dish is paprika, from which the dish’s name also originates. It is believed that it was created by the farmers of southern Hungary, the area famous for excellent quality paprika. The Hungarian National Cookbook published in 1830 contains a recipe for chicken paprikash.
The name of the dish has its origin in the Hungarian word ‘paprikás’ meaning pepper. Many types of vegetables and fruits were taken back to Europe from the Americas by the explorers during the 16th century, tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers among them. Hungary became the center of red pepper cultivation thanks to suitable soil and weather conditions. And paprika – dried and powdered red pepper – was born.
The dish paprikash can be made with any meat – lamb, pork or veal – or even a mix of vegetables. However, originally the dish was made with chicken, that too, the tougher parts of chicken. Chicken is the meat most commonly used for paprikash today as well.
I have used chicken drumsticks for this recipe.
You can buy paprika in sweet, hot, and smoked varieties in the US but Hungary has seven official gradations for classifying paprika. Any of the versions will work for this recipe.
The original version of the dish cooked in Hungary does not contain tomatoes, but many versions include them. Even when tomatoes are added, it is a small quantity. I have followed the NY Times version here, of course with variations.
Paprika starts to lose its flavor after a few months. So it is better to store the paprika in the refrigerator.
Traditionally, paprikash used to be served with dumplings, but egg noodles have become the norm these days. You can also serve it with crusty bread. And I personally love it served over a bed of mashed potatoes.
P is for Paprikash
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degree F.
- Season chicken with salt and pepper.
- Heat the cooking oil in an oven proof largish pan (cast iron is best).
- Lay the chicken pieces in a single layer in the pan. Brown for 5 minutes on each side, turning the pieces half way through. When browned all over, remove to a plate.
- Add the onion and pepper pieces to the pan. Stir well and scrape up any brown bits that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan. Cook stirring regularly, till the onions are wilted and transparent, about 6 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for a minute, stirring.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter.
- Add the paprika and flour to the pan, off the heat. Mix together thoroughly and return the pan to low heat.
- Continue cooking for 2 or 3 minutes, taking care that the paprika is not burning.
- Add the wine, if using, to the pan. Deglaze and let the liquid evaporate.
- Add the chicken stock and the tomato. Stir well to combine.
- Place the chicken pieces in the pan, trying not to overlap. Spoon the sauce over the chicken pieces.
- Place the pan in the pre-heated oven. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes, till the chicken is fully cooked.
- When done, remove from the oven and check seasoning. Mix in the sour cream. Or you can serve a dollop of the sour cream on top of each serving.
- Serve hot with buttered egg noodles or crusty bread. Or any other accompaniment of your choice.