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

For the paprikash

  • 800 grams (1 ¾ pounds) boneless, skinless, chicken thighs cut into 1.5 cm (½ inch) pieces. You can also use chicken legs (4 pieces) or bone-in chicken thighs (8 pieces).

  • 1 tablespoon lard (if you don’t have any, you can render pork belly or bacon fat or use vegetable oil)

  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 pinches freshly ground pepper

  • 1 onion, minced

  • 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)

  • 1 cup sour cream

  • 1 tablespoon flour

For the egg dumplings / galuska

  • 3 eggs

  • 400 grams (3 ¼ cups) all-purpose flour

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 100 ml (½ 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 150 ml (½ cup) water, place lid on pot, and let it steam-cook for about 30 minutes, until chicken is very tender.

  • Step 4: While chicken is cooking, prepare the egg dumplings by mixing egg, flour, oil, water, and salt. Knead them into a runny dough, then using a strainer board, 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: In a medium bowl, mix together sour cream and flour (reserve 2 tablespoons of sour cream). Ladle a few spoons of the hot cooking juices from the pot into the sour cream mixture and stir to combine.

  • Step 6: Turn off the heat and add 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 2-3 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 prepare a simple cucumber salad for the side.

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.