This weekend's food adventure was a Hungarian Chicken Paprikash...or as they say in Hungary...Csirke Paprikas. As you may or may not know, I've decided to do a recipe from every country represented on the flags in the side bar, this weekend it was Hungary. I found quite a number of recipes on the net but this is the one I followed the most closely www.epicurean.com, there is a nice article all about the history of Hungarian food as well, really quite informative.
So, starting with the ingredients: chicken, paprika, sour cream (creme fraiche in French), onion, green pepper, tomatos, tomato paste and flour and eggs for the dumplings...that is a whole 'nother story...and various other things.
This is just for fun...a close up on the tomatoes, and guess where they came from? Surprise, I grew them on my tiny little balcony cuz I'm an urban survivor (got about 15 in all but they were pretty tasty). Also, since the only homemade chicken stock I had in the fridge was Asian flavored (ginger and lemon grass), and I really didn't have the time to make more stock this weekend I opted for some special Eastern European boullion cubes (I know it's cheating but it seems like such less of a cheat since I did have to go out of my way to get them).
Chicken, I don't know what its like where you come from but here in Paris, no matter where I buy my chickens they are never really totally plucked. There are always some feathers left on.
Next to an open fire out in the backyard the best thing is a gas range to singe all those annoying feathers off. This really works.
Here is the start of preparation. Once the chicken was cleaned of all the feathers I cut it into pieces and put the pieces in a plastic bag with 1/4 cup flour, 2 teaspoons of paprika (or maybe a little more), some salt and some pepper (1/4 teaspoon each...more or less depending on taste). Then shake to coat well.
Then brown the chicken pieces in a mix of oil and butter (I used peanut oil). Some recipes call for lard, which must be delicious but I have a resident non pork eater so that was out for me.
After the chicken pieces are nicely browned on each side take them out of the casserole and put them aside. The next ingredients to get ready are some chopped onion (one large), some paprika (lots...I think I used 1/4 cup minus the amount to toss the chicken), some tomato paste (two tablespoons) and should be one cup of stock but I used water and the cube.
Sautee the onions and paprika in the cooking juice from the chicken til the onions are soft, then add the tomato paste, and then add the stock (or water and cube).
This will make a nice rich thick base for the sauce, cook for five minutes but not too hot.
Here is the browned chicken that I set aside, with some green peppers cut into rings and some chopped tomato (three small). If I hadn't of been so lazy this weekend I would have peeled them, it's really not all that much of an effort...and I promise that next time I will show you my foolproof tomato peeling technique.
Put the chicken pieces, the pepper, and the tomato into the casserole with the nice thick sauce, mix and turn the heat way down. Cover and cook 'til the chicken is done...and here is where you must watch out. It's best if the chicken cooks in its own juices and that you don't add water. But, since the sauce is so thick, the heat must be way down so nothing sticks and burns...I decided to let my chicken cook for one hour, however I was checking frequently at the end and at about 40 minutes it was starting to stick.
If this happens to you don't despair. Just transfer everything to a new casserole and DO NOT scrape up any of the stuck bits because they will give a bad taste to your sauce. Then put the old pan in the sink to soak.
At the very end, put two cups of sour cream (creme fraiche) into a bowl and gradually stir in some of the hot sauce the chicken has been cooking in. This is because your cream will curdle and cook strangely if you just pour it in on top of the cooking chicken. The idea is to raise the heat gradually and then mix the whole thing together.
And here you have it, the creme fraiche has been added to the chicken, pepper and tomato mixture and the whole thing smells really delicious. Nice color too, I think.
And this is a close close up on the chicken paprikash with peppers and onions.
This is a really tasty dish. My only disaster this weekend was the dumplings and I am just going to have to do some more research. They were so strange, like these gobs of weird dough, perhaps that is what a dumpling is? In any case, I was not satisfied with my results and so I will attempt them again at a future date.
In case you would like to compare paprikash recipes here are some other links I found interesting:
Chicken Paprikash 2
Chicken Paprikash from Hungary
Chicken Paprikash and other good things from June Meyer
Extensive list of Hungarian recipes including Chicken Paprikash
I'm thinking about a delicious Chicken Machbous for next weekend, this is a traditional Persian gulf recipe and fairly complicated too (my favorite kind) and since I've had at least one visitor from Bahrain, one from the Emirates, and one from Kuwait... that means three flags in one recipe.
See you then and in the meanwhile, happy lunching!