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Chicken Paprikás

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Serves four.

While old-school Hungarian cooks would use lard instead of oil and probably double the amount of sour cream, this somewhat lighter version is equally delicious and more to American tastes.

  • 1 cup homemade or low-salt canned chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs. oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 Tbs. sweet paprika (see Sources)
  • 1 3-lb. chicken, cut into four pieces, or 2-1/2 lb. chicken pieces (thighs work nicely)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 large tomato, peeled, seeded, and chopped or 3 canned seeded, chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 cup sour cream

Put the stock in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, and reduce by half to concentrate the flavor.

Heat the oil in a deep skillet or sauté pan large enough to hold the chicken pieces snugly. Add the onion; cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. It should be well colored but not burned. Reduce the heat slightly, add the paprika, and stir for a few minutes to develop the flavor.

Season the chicken pieces well with salt and pepper and add them to the pan, skin side down. Brown them well over medium high, about 7 minutes on each side. Add the reduced stock and scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat to low, cover the pan, and let it simmer about 15 minutes. Add the green pepper and tomato (and a little water if the pan seems dry -- Hungarians would say the chicken should almost fry instead of "swim," so don't add too much stock). Replace the lid and simmer until the chicken is very tender when pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes longer, turning the pieces once during cooking.

Transfer the chicken pieces to a dish and keep them warm while you finish the sauce. Spoon off as much grease as you can. Bring the sauce to a boil and boil for a few minutes to concentrate the flavors even more. Stir the flour into the sour cream with a fork or whisk and then whisk this into the sauce. Simmer for about 4 minutes. to cook away any floury taste and to bring the flavors together; taste and adjust the salt and pepper if necessary. Return the chicken pieces to the pan to reheat and coat them with the sauce.

Serve with boiled potatoes, rice, or the Hungarian accompaniment, which would be galushka, tiny egg noodles or dumplings that are similar to spaetzle.

Make Ahead Tips

You can make the paprikas up to one day ahead and refrigerate, covered. Reheat in a covered casserole dish in a 350°F oven.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 450; Fat (g): fat g 30; Fat Calories (kcal): 270; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 9; Protein (g): protein g 36; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 9; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 9; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 9; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 410; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 105; Fiber (g): fiber g 1;

Photo: Martha Holmberg

Excellent recipe. Easy to make, basic ingredients, foolproof instructions, with a complex flavor resulting. My hubby loves it - I've been making this for years, ever since it first came out in your magazine. One of my favourite 'special' dishes (if it wasn't special, I would weigh an extra 100lbs!)

When we get back from a trip abroad, I try my hand at native dishes. This last trip was Hungary and we had something like this many times. The only change I made to the recipe was that I lowered the heat for frying the onions and the chicken. Paprika burns at high heat; that's probably what made the sauce in the photo that dark brown color. Mine turned out nice and red. Served it with the recommended Cucumber and Sweet Onion Salad. Everybody loved it. I'll probably make it again soon.

We both enjoyed and will make again. I followed the recipe scrupulously with the single exception of using poblano chiles instead of a bell pepper because they were half the price and very similar in flavor, just adding a very mild heat, which we liked in the dish. They did cook down to almost nothing, so next time I'll add another one later in the cooking.

I've been making this recipe several times a year for the last seven years and it's a family favorite. I have to be careful with the onions so that they don't burn while browning the chicken, and so I sometimes put them in later than specified. It's even more tasty when I use creme fraiche instead of the sour cream. The chicken is of course much better the second day. I serve it with egg noodles or homemade spaetzle. My husband doesn't care for green peppers so I use a red pepper instead.

Wonderful, comfort food; flavor was subtle and interesting. I didn't think I'd like all that green pepper but it just melds into the sauce to add to the flavor. This recipe gets easier every time I make it, it's not difficult; this makes a wonderful make-ahead dish, especially for a party.

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