Chicken paprikash (Csirkepaprikás)

For a long time, paprikash and goulash meant the same thing and were used interchangeably. Today, there’s a slight difference between these centuries-old Hungarian classics: the paprikash is usually made with chicken or veal and always finished with sour cream. Because of its lush, creamy sauce, many people favor the paprikash of the two.

Ingredients

Yield: 4-5 servings; Total time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

For the paprikash

  • 800 grams (1 ¾ pounds) boneless, skinless, chicken thighs cut into 1 ½ cm (½ inch) pieces. You can also use chicken legs (4 pieces) or bone-in chicken thighs (8 pieces).

  • 2 tablespoons lard (if you don’t have any, you can render fatback or pork belly fat or use vegetable oil)

  • 1 large onion, peeled and minced

  • 1 heaping tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)

  • 2 pinches freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1 ripe medium tomato, peeled and cut into very small pieces (or puréed into smooth paste using an immersion blender)

  • 1 Hungarian wax pepper or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into very small pieces (or puréed into smooth paste using an immersion blender)

  • 250 grams (1 cup) sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon flour

  • Optional: pickled vegetables or cucumber salad for the side

For the egg dumplings / galuska

  • 3 eggs

  • 400 grams (2 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 150 ml (⅔ cup) water

  • 3 pinches of salt

Directions

  • Step 1: Heat lard or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high, then add minced onion and sauté until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

  • Step 2: Add chicken and sear until it’s lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes.

  • Step 3: Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in paprika, minced garlic, the small bits of tomato and yellow pepper, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Add 125 ml (½ cup) water, place lid on pot, and let it steam-cook at a low simmer for about 1 hour, until chicken is very tender.

  • Step 4: When the chicken is nearly finished, prepare the egg dumplings by mixing egg, flour, oil, water, and salt. Knead them into a wet dough, then using a wetted spaetzle maker or a cutting board and a knife (or the holes of a colander if at least ½ cm or ¼-inch thick), shave coarse bits of dough into a large pot filled with 3 liters (3.2 quarts) of simmering salted water. Scoop out the galuska with a strainer when they appear on the surface a few minutes later. Drizzle with a generous amount of oil and mix well so they don’t stick together, then put aside.

  • Step 5: Finish the paprikash sauce. In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream and flour (reserve 2 tablespoons of sour cream for garnish).

  • Step 6: If the paprikash sauce in the pot is too watery or thick when the chicken is ready, you can adjust it either by adding a bit more water to it or, if too watery, letting steam evaporate with the lid off. Then turn off the heat and add the sour cream mixture to the pot and stir well (if you’re using whole chicken legs or bone-in thighs, first remove them from the pot). Turn heat to medium-high and let the sauce thicken into a creamy consistency at a low simmer for 1-2 minutes. (Then add back chicken pieces if they were removed.)

  • Step 7: Taste the sauce for salt and add more if needed. Serve the chicken paprikash and the dumplings side by side on a dinner plate and drizzle the leftover sour cream on top for an added visual effect. You can serve with a side of pickles or cucumber salad.

Words of advice

Be mindful that the cooking time will increase somewhat if you’re using whole chicken legs or bone-in chicken thighs instead of morsels of meat.

I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day. Do you have any feedback? Please let me know!