Hungarian Comfort Food
SCRAPS #34: Hungarian chicken paprikash, plus an exciting announcement
AN EXCITING ANNOUNCEMENT
Tomorrow will mark one year since I started this newsletter, WOW! This newsletter has been and will remain free! That withstanding, if you think my newsletter brings you value, I am adding a paid option where you can receive occasional bonus recipes in your email, and where you will be the first to know/sign up to free members-only online cooking classes when I host them sometime this year. So excited for these!
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Succulent chicken, creamy, savory paprika sauce and chewy egg dumplings, all in one dish: this is chicken paprikash, a rich and comforting Hungarian recipe I grew up with. I have fond memories of making and eating this meal with my family, my parents would always prepare a platter of crisp, green onions for the table and set it next to the big pot of paprikash. There are so many variations to this recipe, some people serve it with egg dumplings, some with egg noodles, some with potatoes and some with bread. Whatever carb-filled utensil for transporting the sauce from the plate, to your mouth will do the job!
My version is here to simplify the process as much as possible, without giving up any flavor. Traditionally, this meal is made with bone-in chicken. While I can appreciate the flavor bone-in chicken brings, I always thought it was so messy and fussy trying to scoop out a chicken drumstick or boney thigh out of the stew, it’s all covered in sauce, whether you use your hands, a fork or a knife, the sauce tends to get everywhere but on your plate. For that exact reason, I decided to use a mixture of chicken thighs for my recipe, and chicken broth (bonus points if using chicken bon broth). This way, we’ll get all the flavor of a classic paprikash, without all the messy aftermath.
I like to slowly cook the onions and bell peppers together, until they form a paste. Bloom the paprika alongside that and you’ve got yourself the perfect base for the paprikash sauce.
Traditionally, you’d use heavy or sour cream for the sauce. You’ll notice I switched things up with a little coconut milk to keep things kosher. The coconut milk brings a pleasant sweetness and lightness the paprikash I grew up with was always missing.
For more ingredients substitutes, check the list below the ingredients.
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Printable recipe here:
1 to 1 1/2 lbs (500 to 700 g) chicken thighs (about 4 to 5) or chicken breast, cubed into bite-size pieces
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
3 medium red bell peppers (or 2 large ones), finely chopped
1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz (400 ml) can full-fat coconut milk
traditionally, you’d use heavy (sometimes sour) cream, but since I don’t combine meat and dairy in my recipes, coconut milk is perfect for this
3 tablespoons sweet paprika, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to preference
1/2 chicken stock cube + 1 1/2 cups water OR 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Neutral oil for searing, such as sunflower seed oil, grape oil, canola oil;
Kosher salt and pepper
Fresh parsley and green onions, for serving
2 cups (260 g) all-purpose flour
6 large eggs
if you don’t feel like using this many eggs, substitute half of them with water, add 3 eggs, then add water until the dumpling batter reaches the desired consistency
chicken: butter beans, cubed tofu, or mushrooms;
yellow onion: shallots;
tomato paste: a handful of cherry tomatoes, cooked down;
garlic: omit or use 2 teaspoons garlic powder;
coconut milk: blended cashews, blended tofu, or any non-dairy milk alternatives;
cayenne pepper: omit or use a dash of hot sauce of choice;
chicken stock/chicken stock cube: bone broth or vegetable stock;
cornstarch: all-purpose flour;
eggs: water or non-dairy milk.
Add the chicken to a bowl. Season with a big pinch of salt and pepper. Add a drizzle of oil and toss the meat to evenly coat with seasoning. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
Add a glug of oil to a braiser or medium pot over medium heat. Sear the bite-size marinated chicken on each side, for about 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until it has developed a golden crust. You’re not looking to cook the meat all the way through, aim for cooking it 80% through (the meat will finish cooking in the sauce). Remove the meat from the pan and set aside on a plate.
Add more oil to the pan if needed, for sautéing the remaining ingredients. Toss in the onion and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the onion becomes golden, softened and translucent. Add the bell peppers and continue cooking, for 5 to 7 minutes, mixing occasionally, until softened. Reduce the heat to medium-low if needed, and cook the onion and bell peppers down, until the mixture slightly thickens and caramelizes, for 4 to 6 more minutes. Add more oil as needed.
Add the tomato paste over the onion and bell peppers. Mix to combine and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes, until the tomato paste becomes darker in color. Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the paprika and cayenne, if using, to the pan. Cook on low for 1 to 2 minutes to bloom the spices, or until fragrant.
Pour the coconut milk over the mixture. Mix to combine. You should be left with a silky, orange colored sauce, the color will be very similar to a vodka sauce. Pour in the chicken stock or chicken cube and water. Season with a big pinch of salt and add the chicken back to the sauce.
Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, mixing every now and then, until visibly thickened. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water. After 15 minutes of simmering, add the cornstarch mixture. This should immediately thicken the stew. Simmer for 3 to 5 more minutes and remove from heat. Taste, and season with more salt, as needed.
For the dumplings, bring a medium 3 to 4-quart pot of water to a boil. Season it with a big pinch of salt. Combine the flour, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. Vigorously mix everything together using a fork, until combined. You should be left with a thick, gooey pancake-like batter. Using a spoon, scrape small bits of dumpling batter against the edge of the mixing bowl, straight in the boiling hot water using a spoon. Repeat until you are out of dumpling batter. Simmer the dumplings for 2 to 4 minutes, or until doubled in size. Taste to check for doneness and simmer more as needed.
Serve the dumplings with paprikash on top, parsley and green onions.
If you’re looking for some other good stuff to cook up this week, may I suggest:
Caramelized Lemon Vinaigrette & Farro Salad - I want my vinaigrette to have a strong bold flavor, so that’s what I made for you. Too many of the dressings in stores often sound good but turn out to be just colored sugar with a fancy name and fancy packaging. What makes this dressing different is I take the time to caramelize lemons, creating a delicious layer of tartness that, combined with the perfect balance of honey, creates delightful harmony in your mouth. To pair with this dressing I made a delicious filling farro salad topped with dates, gruyere cheese, macadamia nuts, iceberg and buttered lettuce.
Onion Bread - garlic bread is amazing, but have you ever tried onion bread? I made this last year and it was a big hit so I decided to finally put the recipe on my website for you to enjoy. It’s absolutely amazing, buttery, complex, slightly sweet and pairs so well with a sharp cheese, it’s such a delicious appetizer. Plus it would pair well with the Hungarian chicken paprikash
Turkish Eggs - also known as Çılbır is a spicy, creamy, perfectly balanced breakfast to start your day. It uses minimal ingredients for maximal flavor and the recipe is so easy to make, I’m sure you’ll be able to eyeball it the next time you try it and the best part it takes only 15 minutes.
Orangecello with citrus salt - Orangecello, is a delicious and versatile Italian drink made from the zest of oranges and liqueur that is so easy to make at home. All you need is a few oranges, some alcohol, a bit of sugar, and patience.