Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chicken Paprikas

Recently I became interested in braising techniques. I decided to play with my mother-in-law's paprikas recipe. Here is the way she makes it:

1 medium onion, diced
2 peppers (hopefully the thin, yellow ones) sliced into inch long narrow strips
2 carrots, grated

Place these into a pan and add oil. Cover and let soften.

2 small tomatoes (or 1 medium), sliced

Add tomatoes, cover.

1 table spoon sweet paprika.
1 kilo chicken breast, cut into bite-sized chunks

Add these to pot and let cook in own juices.

Add water to pot to just cover chicken. Let cook.

1 to 1 1/2 table spoons salt

Add salt.

Make a thickener:

Stir together one yolk, 1 table spoon flour (or more), and a bit of milk. Add more milk until you have about a coffee-cup-filled amount. Add a bit of the hot broth to the mixture and stir. Keep adding a bit at a time. Then pour the thickener through a strainer (to remove lumps) into the entire pot. Bring the pot back to a boil and then you are finished. (By the way, Katalin adds the egg white to the broth and lets it cook. Why waste it?)

As I mentioned, I prefer this dish served with mashed potatoes. It can also be served with tiny dumplings or store-bought pasta (like farfalle). I also think that cucumber salad makes the perfect side dish.

And here is the recipe I found as a point of comparison, from


¼ cup lard or canola oil
1 (3–4-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 large yellow onion, minced
3 tbsp. Hungarian sweet paprika, plus more for garnish
2 cups chicken stock
2 plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
1 Italian frying pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1" pieces
½ cup sour cream, for serving

Melt lard or heat oil in a 6-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Working in batches, cook, flipping once, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate; set aside. Add onion to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8 minutes. Add paprika; cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Return chicken and its juices to the pan. Add stock, tomatoes, and Italian frying pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until chicken is fully cooked, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken and sauce to a serving platter; spoon sour cream over top and garnish with more paprika.

And the way it went down in my kitchen:

I had four chicken thigh/legs. I seasoned them with salt and pepper and then browned them for about five minutes per side and set aside. I drained off most of fat before softening the diced onion. After about five minutes I added a grated carrot and a sliced up pepper (the Hungarian style, thin, yellow-skinned and impossible to find in America.). I added 1 tablespoon sweet paprika and cooked for a few minutes. I returned the chicken to the pan. I added a sliced tomato and enough water to cover the chicken. Let it boil and returned it to a simmer for about 30 minutes. I then added the mother-in-law's thickener (see above). I salted it as needed. I served it with pasta noodles. I turned the Italian trick and finished the noodles for the last two minutes of cooking in some of the sauce from the chicken pot. Served with sour cream. And a cucumber salad.

I am sure braising the chicken first adds oil and so it must not be as healthy. Yet somehow the flavor was intensified. I likey.

**** Update!
I just found this version of the recipe which also uses a braising technique.  It does not use the carrot.

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