Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Chicken paprika (Paprikas csirke) (p. 431)

First things first--I was fooling around on the TJOC website because I seemed to remember that Chicken paprika (Paprikas csirke) (p. 431) was one of the recipes with an error in it and I wanted to know what it was. While on the website, I found that there are 204 TJOC recipes online! I never give recipe details because I figure you should buy your own copy of TJOC and it seems like plagiarism but if they are posting some of them online, I should link to it in the blog post! So I'm going to go into old blogs and post the links. Considering a lot of people stumble on this blog while looking for a recipe, I think it will be a nice addition to TJOTJOC.

And I was right--Chicken paprika is one of the recipes with a mistake. And it's a big mistake. But I'll get to that later.

The recipe says to add the chicken to the skillet and cook until golden:

I then removed the chicken and added three cups of onions, cooking them slowly until they start to caramelize:

The recipe calls for a quarter cup of sweet paprika--that is a LOT of paprika, almost an entire little canister. I used Penzey's sweet paprika, which was recommended to me by my friend Rachel, who loves it. I also add minced garlic, a bay leaf, and some salt and pepper.

***THE MISTAKE--the first printing of the 2006 edition doesn't include a cup and a half of chicken stock and it should. If I didn't include the chicken stock, the recipe would have burned and been a disaster. Make sure to modify your copy of TJOC***

I added the chicken, reduced the heat, and cooked until the chicken was done (use your meat thermometer, don't guess):

The chicken was removed and the sauce was boiled until it was almost pasty (a real judgement call--I didn't want it to burn so I just boiled it for a while and then figured it was good enough). I whisked in some sour cream and boiled it until it was thickened:

The recipe says it's only 4 servings but I would say it was considerably more--more like 6-8 servings. We ate it for about a week.

This was absolutely amazing! It was strongly flavored but not spicy--perfect for those of you who like mild but flavorful food (it seems like an oxymoron). It heated up really well. And the sauce was the best part--I wish it made a lot more sauce because it would be great to dip bread in. The one change I would make is to take the skin off of the chicken--it just got soggy and wasn't very good. The thighs were nice and juicy.

MAKE SURE YOU MAKE THE CHANGE TO THE RECIPE! This recipe would be an utter failure if I made it like it was printed in my copy of TJOC. It would have burned and been disgusting. So make the change, now!

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  1. I've always wanted to try Chicken Paprika, but never have for some reason! I bet this would be good using smoked paprika, too.

  2. I REALLY recommend the recipe, esp. if you like paprika. I'm sure it would be good with smoked paprika, too, or even a mixture of the two.

  3. Hi,
    My mother was Hungarian so I grew up with this dish. I make it often.
    A couple of things:
    First, looking at your picture, you have cut the onions in the wrong direction. It seems minor, but this does make a significant difference. Slice them very thinly pole to pole, not crosswise (not into rings). This enables the onions to melt and form a sauce.

    Second, when making paprikas you do not brown or caramelize the onion, this turns it into a different dish. The chicken is supposed to cook in the juices of the onion. This is the reason that there is no addition of liquid to the pan.
    Third, again looking at your picture, you are using the wrong kind of pan. It is important to cover the pot tightly and let the chicken braise with the onions.
    Finally, it sounds like a lot of paprika, but this is the key to both texture and flavor of the sauce. Forget Penzey's and the idea of smoked paprika (I do use smoked paprika in other dishes); you must use Hungarian sweet paprika to get the right flavor (I'm not a nationalist, there is some Hungarian style paprika that comes from Backa in former Yugoslavia that is also quite good). The best and most available brand in the US is "Pride of Szeged", but there are other imported Hungarian brands available. If your store doesn't have it, you can order it on the internet.
    By the way, the skin of the chicken is important to the development of the flavor of the sauce. If you want to remove it after it's cooked, go ahead, though of course it is not traditional.
    Some add a bit of garlic to the dish - I do; you can also add some hot paprika, occasionally a bit of dill at the end as a variation. Thinly sliced sweet red or hot peppers can also be added. Don't add bay leaf or caraway; they take away from the delicate flavor of the dish.

  4. Chicken Paprika is my all-time favorite dish. It was not something I grew up with, I made it for the first time in my college dorm using my first paperback version of TJOC. I agree with you about the skin. I recommend trying a couple of things. First youll want to make it with skin and bones because you really get the flavor this way. If you like breast meat, get one whole chicken plus two breasts. Cut the whole chicken up and make a broth from the back bones, neck and wings (home- made broth, I think makes a big difference).
    Try making the recipe in two parts to cut down on the fat. Cook the chicken and then refrigerate before thickening the sauce. When chilled the chicken skin can be removed and the fat can be skimmed from the sauce. One time I also deboned the chicken. I really liked it this way.
    To thicken the sauce, I prepare a roux and add the cooled skimmed sauce into the pan (1T of butter and flour to thicken a cup of sauce). the sour cream really rounds out the flavor.
    I always serve this dish with spaetzel. Yum!


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