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Oct 27, 2010 10:48 AM

Your Best Recipe For Chicken Paprikash

I've been reading the boards and have seen so many threads that someone else is making Chicken Paprikash. Since that is one dish I have never made, I would love to get your recipes on how you make it and what you serve with it. I've looked at a lot of recipes online and at a lot of lovely pictures, but there seems to be quite a bit of difference on how it is prepared. And you all have me salivating. So how do you make it? Currently I have regular paprika and smoky paprika in my cupboard.

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  1. The key to good chicken Paprikash is GOOD QUALITY paprika. None of that Durkee red dust, you need something Hungarian like Szeged. If you like it spicy, you can use 1/2 regular and 1/2 smoky. My grandmother made what she called galushkes, a type of egg based homemade dumpling similar to gnocchi, but not as formed. Egg noodles or rice are also great accompaniments. In our home, a side dish would be dilled cucumber salad, sweet and sour. Of course, apple strudel for dessert.

    4-5 lb. roasting chicken, cut in 10 pieces (2 breast, (ea cut in 1/2) 2 legs, 2 wings, 2 thighs)
    1 large yellow onion, diced
    1 green pepper, cleaned and diced
    1/2 cup white wine, on the dry side, nothing sweet
    1 cup good quality chicken broth, preferably homemade
    s&p to taste
    2 T paprika (or 1 T reg, 1 smoky)
    3T veg oil or EVOO
    1 T garlic, finely chopped
    1 cup sour cream

    In large 12 in skillet, brown onions and peppers in veg oil for 5-10 min till golden brown, not burned. Season chicken with s&p, garlic and paprika. Remove to small bowl. In same skillet, brown chicken very well for 10-15 min on med heat, you may need to do this in batches if your skillet isn't big enough for one layer. Return onion/pepper mixture to pan. Add white wine and chicken broth. Cover skillet and simmer on low heat for 30-40 min till chicken is cooked. (175 degrees) Remove cover. If more than 1/2-3/4 liquid remain, remove chicken and reduce liquid. Otherwise, add sour cream. Stir well and heat very gently. Do not allow chicken to boil once sour cream is added or it will curdle. Serve at once over noodles, dumplings or rice.

    21 Replies
    1. re: Diane in Bexley

      Your recipe is similar to mine, except that I mince, rather than dice my onion, and don't use green pepper or wine. Some recipes I've seen call for chopping up a small tomato or adding a few tablespoons of tomato puree. I've made Chicken Paprikash with and without the tomato and prefer it without. As for the paprika, smoky is not traditional, but could make for an interesting variation on the dish. The Spanish use smoked paprika, but Hungarians generally don't. You can mix mild with hot Hungarian paprika if you want a spicier result. I'd go easy on the hot, though, as too much of it can overwhelm everything else.

      1. re: cheesemaestro

        I'm with you. No wine, maybe some green pepper. no tomato sauce. sometimes I use bacon or bacon fat instead of the oil. and i saute some mushrooms on the side and add them at the end, too. i also use skinless chicken thighs and don't brown them, and no added broth. If you use pieces with skin, then you have to brown them, and i'm too lazy. but browned pieces with skin probably taste better.

        Diane is right in that the key is good quality hungarian paprika. not the smoked kind. Use sweet and a little hot--too much hot and the flavor is wrong.

        but really, in my family, the only reason to make paprikash is to have nokedli, the dumplings that paprikash is served with. my mom gave both me and my brother a nokedli maker as soon as we had our own kitchens, but you can push the batter through a colander if you don't have one. they're like spaetzle, but smaller.

        1. re: missmasala

          Also, Diane, was your grandmother Hungarian? Her galushkas sound like nokedli, but i've never heard them called galushkas when used with paprikas. i'll have to ask my hungarian mother about that.

          1. re: missmasala

            Galushkas might be Yiddish. My grandmother was born in Miskolcs, very Hungarian. I am 100% Hungarian Jewish.

            1. re: missmasala

              My mother's nokedli were quite a bit bigger than spatzle. She didn't have any kind of special tool for this - just scooped a small amount of batter onto a spoon, making a longish dumpling which was then scraped into the boiling water, one by one. I do it the same way. Rarely make them anymore - but now that you reminded me I think it's time...

              Oh and definitely green pepper but no tomato or wine. And because my parents were kosher, no sour cream (although I realize it's almost mandatory for this dish).

              My family is Transylvanian Hungarian - Nagyvarod and Koloszvar.

              1. re: Nyleve

                My Szathmar grandparents would consider it treif to put sour cream in the paprikash, but it does make it taste so much better. The addition of sour cream is my contribution.

                The method you described is the same as my Grandma made, but more like a large gnocchi in length. Am sure its the same, just different wording. They are delicious fried in butter and doused with sour cream as well. We often had them for a milchig meal when I was a kid.

                1. re: Diane in Bexley

                  That's funny, my Hungarian jewish mom always claims that nokedli must be smaller than spatzle. And she adds sour cream to her paprikas, as I do, because it tastes better, but my grandmother did not. Since I'm only 50% percent hungarian jew, I don't have any qualms about mixing milk and meat.

                  As for those looking for paprika, I brought mine back from my last visit to Budapest, but my suggestion is to invest in some good paprika and then, once opened, keep it in the freezer.
                  And if you think your paprika is old or not pungent enough, use a lot more of it. Won't be as good, but better than using less.

                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                    Speaking of which...what about shlishkes? (Not sure if I have the spelling right on that.) My mother once gave me her recipe but it was so hilariously vague as to be pointless. It's a potato-based dough - like gnocchi - so begins with a "big potato, some eggs and enough flour to make a good dough". I tried to make them but ended up using about 5 lbs of flour before anything looked like a "good dough" and then they were leaden and horrible. I may give it another try sometime but my mother is no longer around as a consultant so I'll be flying solo.

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      I'm gonna jump in here and suggest that your shlishkes dough would be better extruded (like spaetzle) than rolled out. If they're done that way you can get away with a much lighter dough and they'll be more like dumplings than the rubber balls you apparently wound up with.

                      My paprikash recipe came from my first wife's mom, who I'm sure got it from a '50s magazine - it was called Chicken Paprika and served on rice, for pete's sake! - so it's not really playing in this league. However, I did change the flavor substantially by subbing in ground dried ancho chile for the paprika, and we have found it good. There are so many varieties of good red chiles available now in powder form that I think a lot more experimentation is called for, unless you're strict about authenticity.

                      1. re: Will Owen

                        I have no doubt that ancho chiles would make for a very tasty paprikas, but I have to admit that for me it's all about comfort food and memory. So when I make it, it has to be like my mother's. To the point that, even though I am about as far from kosher as I can get, I don't add sour cream to the dish (despite how delicious it might be). Good Hungarian paprika - mostly sweet but a little hot is ok too - and that's it. Funny how there are just some foods that are so deeply ingrained that they can't be altered.

                        As for shlishkes, I know there's a way to make them edible without being extruded. My mother made the dough, rolled it by hand into ropes, then cut the ropes into small bits and rolled those bits into long worm-shapes. These were boiled, then drained and fried with bread crumbs. Egad I am going to have to make this - I'm sure it's been 25 years since I've eaten shlishkes.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          Are you kidding? My mother would skewer me if I subbed ancho chili powder for the hungarian paprika and then had the chutzpah to call it paprikas. She even got upset about a recent NY times article that claimed smoked spanish paprika was better than hungarian paprika. Don't mess with hungarians and their paprika!

                          1. re: missmasala

                            Seriously! Never mess with the paprika. DH learned the hard way when he suggested adding wine, etc. to my Paprikas that you do NOT mess with grandma's recipes. Mine consists of chicken, diced onion, paprika (sweet and half sharp), enough water to cover, a piece of green pepper, a piece of tomato, and finished with sour cream that has a spoonful of flour stirred in.

                            1. re: foodslut

                              Exactly. Do. Not. Mess. And just for the record, my mother wouldn't have made this with skinless, boneless breasts even at gunpoint. It had to be the whole chicken, bones in, skin on and she only ate the thighs and legs. It's not so much a food as it is a religious observance.

                        2. re: Nyleve

                          shlishkes sound like something I've eaten in Hungary, but not something my mother made or makes regularly. However, they do sound a lot like gnocchi, and I've had success getting a drier dough with less flour by baking the potatoes instead of boiling them. Microwaving works, too--anything that doesn't make them waterlogged, like boiling.
                          Also, if the dough is really sticky and you let it rest, it becomes more manageable.

                          And my mother gives hilariously vague recipes, too. I e-mailed her the other day to ask for her recipe for tomato soup dumplings and she wrote back that "they are like the other ones, but without the milk." That was it. That's her idea of a recipe.

                          1. re: missmasala

                            Now I'm on a mission. I must find a recipe for shlishkes and MAKE THEM. Last year I gave my son a Jewish cookbook and I'm almost positive there was a shlishke recipe in it - I'll ask him to copy it and send it to me. I could hunt down my mother's handwritten recipe but, well, there's not really any point, is there. "Like the other ones, but without the milk" - of course.

                            1. re: Nyleve

                              Ny,I wil ask my mother for a recipe. She lives in S.Florida in a large Jewish area full of seniors from all over (probably the largest concentration of Holocaust survivors too). She loves to do stuff like this - it will giveher an opportunity to ask lots of people.Will report back with a recipe in a few days.

                  2. re: missmasala

                    Made paprikash last week-used a big flat barbecue spatula with holes to make nokedii. Worked great.

                2. re: Diane in Bexley

                  Can you help me? I've had chicken paprikash at a couple resturaunts and from a homemade recipe and all of them left the bones in when serving. Is that how it was served traditionally?

                  1. re: das6332

                    Absolutely. My mother would never buy boneless chicken nor take bones out of anything when serving. One is expected to suck on the bones. Well, at least my father did.

                    1. re: das6332

                      Even the very inauthentic first recipe I had for this required bone-in, skin-on chicken. Cooked right it should come off the bone very easily. Picking up the bone and sucking on it is strictly optional! But fun.

                  2. Thank you for posting this. DH loves chicken paprikash & I've been looking for a good recipe.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: fauchon

                      You are welcome. I am excited to try some of these. I'm sure there are some varied recipes out there. I am lucky as DH is excited to try new things I have been finding. So far, everything I have made him from the CH board he has loved.

                    2. Í tried this recipe in the slow cooker (and didn't even sear the chicken first). Still came out great. Made it twice already with some slight variations to account for the slow cooker (more spices, more flour, etc.) and it turned out great with either white rice or egg noodles.


                      Agreed that the regular, supermarket paprika is flavorless and horrible. I had bought great paprika in Macedonia and was dying to use it. So glad I finally found a great dish to use it in!

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: yfunk3

                        How long did you cook it in the slow cooker? On high, medium or low?

                        1. re: boyzoma

                          Do you think it can be done using boneless chicken? I usually cook everything on low in the slow cooker.

                          1. re: pamd

                            I have made it with B/S chicken, would not advise a slow cooker. Since B/S chicken cooks so quickly, here is what I have done - made a sauce by browning onions and pepper, add paprika, wine & stock, cook down a little. I don't like thickened sauces, but you could add a roux if you like. In separate skillet, brown chicken (cutlets or strips, whatever you prefer) in some oil or EVOO. Add sauce and sour cream. Don't boil, but simmer for 10 min or so for flavors to meld.

                            I don't care for slow cooker, but it seems like B/S chicken would be very tough after long braise.

                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                              Nope, I've never gotten tough chicken from using boneless/skinless chicken thighs in the slow cooker, and I've made the mistake of cooking dishes past 8 hours on low (overnight, while I was sleeping) or 4 hours on high a couple times before I figured it out. White meat chicken is where I could see it becoming tough.

                              I find the key with slow cookers is just to look after it every now and then (I do it every hour or so), so I don't recommend walking away or leaving the house for too long. The newer slow cookers do get pretty hot and it's just similar to simmering on the lowest heat setting on the stove.

                          2. re: boyzoma

                            I cooked it on high for 3-4 hours (not more, or it'll be too to check in on it every hour or so to make sure it's not boiling too much), but I don't see why you can't cook it on low for 6 or more hours and not get the same results. I would try to avoid cooking it TOO long, as you might get that weird, generic "slow cooker" taste if you do. I try to mix in the flour and sour cream mixture about a half hour or so before I turn off the cooker.

                            And I've made this dish with bone-in and boneless chicken thighs, so both are fine and work wonderfully. Breast/white meat might get a bit dry if you cook it too long, but I'm sure it'll still taste the same.

                            ETA: I have a cheap Hamilton Beach slow cooker that was made in the past ten years, so the heat is definitely higher than the old-timey Crockpots.

                        2. I haven't made this in a long time, but when I did, I used the recipe in Joy of Cooking (trade paperback edition available in bookstores in 1978). It worked flawlessly every time.

                          I just happened to read about Chicken Paprikash again last night, in Molly Stevens' All About Braising. She says to get good Hungarian paprika. In the back, she cites Penzey's as her source.


                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Jay F

                            Thanks for that info. So I see 2 different kinds of Hungarian paprika. Would you use the sweet or the half-sharp?

                            1. re: boyzoma

                              Penzey's Hugarian paprika is very good, but check your supermarket to see if it carries the Szeged brand, which will work fine. I use only sweet paprika, but you can mix in a little of the half-sharp if you like.

                              1. re: boyzoma

                                I'd probably get the half-sharp. There wasn't anything like Penzey's when I first made this. I just bought whatever I found at the store. I think there was a brand that came in a red can that was from Hungary.

                                EDIT: Szeged, which cheesemaestro mentions above, is the brand in the red can.

                                1. re: Jay F

                                  My mom uses the Joy of Cooking recipe also. I LOVE it when she makes Chicken Paprikash. I have yet to get the recipe from her, but it is sooo good.
                                  I think normally you would use Hungarian sweet paprika unless you want more heat.

                                2. I use George Lang's recipe -- AMAZING. His cookbook, The Cuisine of Hungary, is great too. I checked it out of the library and ended up absorbed! I would like to read his memoir too -- Nobody Knows the Truffles I've Seen. I usually serve this with egg noodles, but I would like to try the dumplings. Cozy, cozy, cozy, a favorite for chilly nights. Here's his recipe, paraphrased of course:

                                  George Lang's Paprikas Csirke
                                  (Paprika Chicken)

                                  2 medium-sized onions, peeled and minced
                                  2 tablespoons lard
                                  1 "plump" chicken, about 3 pounds, cut in pieces-- I use 3 pounds thighs
                                  1 to 2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled and cut into pieces
                                  1 heaping tablespoon "Noble Rose" paprika (or any top quality paprika, as mentioned above)
                                  1 teaspoon salt
                                  2 tablespoons sour cream
                                  1 tablespoon flour
                                  2 tablespoons heavy cream
                                  Egg Dumplings (he has a recipe for these too)

                                  Cook onions in lard in a 4 or 5 quart Dutch oven over low heat until almost pasty but not browned, about 5 minutes.

                                  Add chicken and tomato, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.

                                  Stir in paprika, 1/2 cup water, and salt and cook, covered, on very low heat, for half an hour. Toward the end, remove the lid to let the liquid evaporate, then cook the chicken checking that it doesn't burn. Add a few more tablespoons of water if necessary.

                                  Remove the chicken from the pot and set it aside. Mix together the sour cream, flour, and 1 teaspoon of cold water and stir it into the sauce in the pan until it's very smooth. Add a sliced green pepper (I skip this, not a fan of green pepper) and reserved chicken and check the salt. Cover pot and cook over very low heat until tender.

                                  Just before serving, whip in the heavy cream. Serve with egg dumplings.

                                  Lang explains that the magic is in combining sour cream and heavy cream as "the ideal way to prepare his dish" and that in Hungary, upon serving, the chicken is topped with a few additional spoonfuls of sour cream.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: twilight goddess

                                    Sounds divine. Do you have the recipe for the egg dumplings as well?