One of my favorite chicken dishes is Chicken Paprikash. It is rich and hearty, great for a crowd. It stands alone well, but when served with egg noodles or roasted potatoes, it is outstanding. Paprika is a distinctive feature in Hungarian cooking. The paprika fruit is in the capsicum family (the chili pepper family). They tend to be sweeter than their picante cousins. Paprika plants are grown throughout the Americas, Hungary, and Spain; when dried and cru
shed, this fruit gives dynamic flavor to our food. Spanish Paprika, also known as Pimenton, tends to be a little less intense than Hungarian, and it is often smoked. It is incredible the range of flavor we can get from one plant.
Chicken Paprikash is a celebration of paprika. It is probably one of the most popular dishes eaten in Hungary and certainly the most common Hungarian meal eaten outside of the country. Traditionally the meat is stewed in paprika and broth until the meat falls apart. The addition of tomato was a later adaptation but gives this dish a wonderful sweetness. Sour cream adds a tangy fat that not only complements the sweet spice of the dish but adds a lingering richness to the sauce. This dish can be easily made ahead of time. I often like to serve mine after it has sat for a day in the refrigerator so that all of the flavors can swim together and settle into a delicious sauce.
2-3 lb chicken thighs, bone-in
½ cup all-purpose flour
2 TBSP canola oil
1 TBSP butter
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
3 oz tomato paste
3 TBSP Hungarian Paprika, hot or sweet or a combination
1 cup chicken stock
8 oz crimini mushrooms, quartered (optional)
2 bay leaf
½ cup sour cream
1 lb wide egg noodles, cooked according to package
Season chicken liberally with salt and pepper then coat with flour. Place the thighs on a plate, being sure to tap off any excess flour. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven on high heat. Add oil and butter; when the oil is hot and shimmering, place chicken skin-side down in the pan. Sear until golden brown, about 5-7 minutes. Flip to sear the second side for 2 minutes. Remove chicken from the pan, placing it on the plate. You are not trying to cook the chicken thru in this step, just getting some nice color and crispiness to the exterior.
Turn heat down to medium and add the sliced onions, with a few pinches of salt. Saute for 7-8 minutes, stirring well, until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the garlic, stirring until fragrant; one more minute. Add the tomato paste, stir well, cooking until the tomato paste turns rust-like in color. Add the paprika then carefully pour in the stock. Be sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, picking up the crusty bits stuck to the base. Place the chicken back in the pan along with the mushrooms and bay leaf. Add a few more pinches of salt. Bring the mixture up to a boil, then cover and simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes until the chicken is cooked. If serving this dish the next day, stop at this point. Let the Paprikash cool and refrigerate overnight. When ready to serve, heat in the oven or stovetop. When the sauce is hot, and the chicken is warmed throughout, remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve with cooked egg noodles.
Chef Liza Greifinger
Your Guide to Our Culinary Trip Around the World
Growing up in New York, surrounded by the flavors of the world, Liza developed a love for food and cooking. After a fulfilling career in outdoor education, she decided to explore her passion for food. Liza studied at The French Culinary Institute and then trained with some of the top chefs in New York City before being drawn to the mountains of Colorado. She joined the team at Food Lab, in Boulder, in the spring of 2016. There she teaches cooking skills and technique to all ages as well as curriculum development for the educational programs.