“Csirke Paprikas” Chicken Paprikash

Everyone and their brother has a recipe for the Paprikash.  However, this is the one I’ve evolved and tweaked, the richness of the sauce, the fat dumplings, tender chicken and just the right sweet, tart, crunchy accompaniment: Cucumber salad. recipe here
This is not just a recipe, it’s a walk through all the steps to make this AMAZING dish, I think it’s better than any I’ve tasted actually. Why? Because it has the richness of the full out greasy pot of meat you find in the old country, the lightness of what you expect in America and the full out flavor we foodies crave.  It’s the combination of rich saucy chicken, fat gooey, fluffy dumplings, and fresh sweet sour cucumber that makes this a masterpiece. It takes a little work and timing, but its o-so-worth it! One HUGE secret is salt. You have to salt during every step or it’ll be bland, but you can always adjust at the end but it won’t be as rich in flavor.

Ready?

I’m going to use chicken drumsticks, thighs are good too, they’re reasonable and the parts of the chicken which have the best flavor. Breasts are too dry. A whole chicken is perfect with the back bones, neck and all the parts, but I don’t happen to have one today.

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First, get a good heavy pot, I like the cast iron ones best.
Chop two onions into very fine little bits.
Slice 7 fresh peppers into nice little shreds, leaving out the hot membranes and seeds. Not bells, they are bitter. Hungarian wax, feher or boldog peppers are best. Today I used Anaheim, jalapeño and cubano.  Do not use bell peppers, ever!

Set those aside.

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Wash chicken and let dry.
Dredge with flour and salt ( I use a plastic bag and shake them up in it) but first pull the skin up to cover most of the leg.

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Add a generous amount of oil in the pot and heat up to almost the highest.
Brown the chicken, turning them till they’re golden and the skin fat is rendered out a bit.

Set aside on a separate plate. Add the onions and peppers, sweat them down and scrape the toasty flour bits on the bottom of the pot then put the lid on and let them cook down till almost translucent.

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Sprinkle with REAL paprika, it’s a world of difference in flavor.
Here is real and FAKE Hungarian Paprika.
One tastes like rich fresh roasted paprika, the other like sawdust.

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OK, Sprinkle about 1/4 of a generous 2 -3 tablespoons of paprika on top of onions and peppers. Set the chicken legs on top and sprinkle 3/4 paprika on them. Put the lid on and let them cook, don’t keep opening or messing with it AT ALL. It should be on low where you get a slight simmering bubbling, no more than that or the chicken falls apart.
Check every 15 minutes if you must. When you see the rich sauce bubbling up and you see that rich dark paprika juice, time to fold the legs under the sauce.

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In a glass bowl add eggs and salt, then keep adding flour and mixing until you get a nice stretchy golden  batter. Let it rest at least 10 minutes for the flour to soak up the egg.

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Bring a wide pot or pan of salted water to boil.

This is the best part, I have a spaetzel maker, but its messy, makes little noodles and a pain to clean up.
So get a little chopping board, the backside a dinner knife and lets make nokedli!
Make sure the knife and board is good and wet, then add a dollop of dumpling dough.
Cut off a little section, drag it to the edge of the board and cut it into the boiling water. Wet the knife in the water and go back and do it again, it’s so much fun and you can get really quick at it. This batch was about three dollops for five eggs worth.

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When the little chunks float up the the surface, give a gentle stir to make sure there are no stragglers on the bottom, take the biggest one out and slice to make sure there is no raw dough inside. Then drain them. Add a huge dollop of butter in the pan and put the nokedli back, toss and its ready!

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It’s ready to serve!

But, if your husband decides to go do something, or the kids are stragglers or whatever!
Don’t worry about the nokedli getting all gummy and dried out. Toss them in with the chicken to soak up the sauce, and you’re good to go. No one will know the difference. It tastes great either way!

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Serve with wilted cucumber salad. Uborkasalata!

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