My son Michael came over the other night and I made him some of my favorite Hungarian comfort food. My Mom’s parents were from Budapest and visiting this beautiful city last fall was an amazing experience for my husband and me. We thoroughly enjoyed this historic and fascinating city. I could’ve filled a suitcase with spices, but only bought a few as these days you can get anything online so don’t really need to be in the country of origin, but it sure is fun to grocery shop in a foreign land!
This recipe for Csirke Paprikas (pronounced Cherrtaka Pappreekash) is my Mom’s, but I have made a few changes; specifically using two kinds of Hungarian pepper paste under the skin of the chicken, which I think gives the dish an extremely rich depth of flavor and moistness.
These are the pepper pastes I used:
I did buy them in Budapest, but have since done a little research to find you can get them online: www.JudisUniverStore.com. Go to Hungarian Paprikas. The first is a little spicy and the second is a sweet blend of peppers and tomatoes. They are both somewhat salty so be cautious when adding additional salt to the dish. Combined they are wonderful!
CHICKEN PAPRIKA or CSIRKE PAPRIKAS
|This is the dish, all baked and ready to serve!
4 Tbsp. butter or olive oil (I used olive oil.)
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into rings
3/4 cup cold water
8 large chicken thighs*
3 medium red bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
1 large tomato, cut into chunks
2 Tbsp. sweet Paprika (or use 1 Tbsp. sweet and 1 hot)
1 Tbsp. Gulyaskrem Eredeti Csmege (pepper paste)
2 Tbsp. Piros Csipos Arany Etelizesito (pepper paste)
1 cup sour cream (or non-fat, plain Greek-style Yogurt)
* Traditionally you would use a whole chicken cut up, but I prefer to use either all breast or all thigh/legs so the meat cooks evenly. If you use a combo, the breast can get overdone.
|I like to get most of my ingredients assembled before beginning to cook;
helps me stay organized.
Heat butter or oil in a large frying pan. Add onion and a sprinkle of salt. Saute for 2 minutes stirring to coat onion evenly in the oil. Add 1/4 cup water and reduce heat to lowest possible. Cover and simmer for about an hour until onions carmelize.
While the onions are carmelizing, mix the two Hungarian pepper pastes together in a small bowl. Using your fingers, gently pull the skin from the chicken thighs, but don’t pull it all the way off–keep intact in some places so it doesn’t fall away from the meat. Rub the paste under the skin dividing equally between the 8 thighs. Place the thighs in a 9×13 baking dish and let the pepper sauce marinate into the chicken while the onions continue to cook. When the onions are done they will be soft, fragrant and just golden brown. Remove the onions from the pan into a bowl.
Add a little more oil and get the pan nearly smoking hot. Brown the chicken thighs (this makes a bit of a mess, but is important) for about 3 minutes per side. Place the browned thighs back into the 9×13 inch baking dish which you have washed and dried thoroughly since using as the marinade dish for the raw chicken.
|Here is the chicken after browning.
Do NOT wash the frying pan; just scrape up the bits of chicken from bottom of pan. Next add all your sliced red peppers to the pan; stir while cooking over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, 2 Tbsp. Paprika, Salt/Pepper, last half cup of water, and the cooked onions back into the pan. Stir until well combined and pour the whole thing over the top of the browned chicken thighs.
|This is what it looks like before going into the oven for baking.
Put the Chicken Paprika in a preheated 400 degree oven and bake for 15 minutes. Turn heat down to 350 and continue baking for another 45 minutes until chicken is very tender.
I served this with a cucumber salad–chopped English style cuke, salt, fresh dill and enough non-fat Greek style yogurt to moisten. My Mother would be cringing with all this yogurt. She was NOT a fan and would never substitute sour cream with yogurt. Sorry Mom!
I also served with another of my Mom’s favorites which she cooked often. This pasta dish goes well with almost everything so don’t wait to cook it until you’re going all Hungarian!
AKA CABBAGE NOODLES
1 medium head of cabbage, cored, trimmed and shredded
1 Tbsp. of salt
4 Tbsp. butter
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. of square shaped egg noodles (I had bow-ties in the pantry which worked fine. Mom always made her own pasta.)
Put shredded cabbage into a large bowl. Add the salt and toss to distribute evenly. Leave for 1 hour. Then squeeze to remove the liquid. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add the cabbage and season with black pepper. Toss to distribute. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Do not let it burn so stir from time to time. Cook noodles for 8 minutes. Drain in colander. Add noodles to the pan of cabbage. Mix thoroughly. It is ready to eat now or you can put it in a buttered casserole and reheat just before serving.
In Hungary cabbage is occasionally sweetened with sugar just before serving. I don’t do that because I like the buttery, salty cabbage just as it is. This is truly a comfort dish and combined with the Chicken Paprika…out of this world!
|See how this spoon hooks on the side of the glass.
My son accompanied his meal with a Half and Half, sometimes also called a Black and Tan, which is made by half filling a pint glass with a nice amber Lager (like Sam Adams), and then slowly adding Guinness difusing the pour over a special little Guinness spoon.
|A perfect pour!
It was a fun and festive night and the sweet aroma of peppers
lingered in the kitchen for 2 days!
***I have a vision of my Aunt Ikey
lifting her glass and toasting us all!***
which in Hungarian is CHEERS!
UNTIL NEXT TIME…
WISHING YOU MUCH LOVE AND HAPPINESS IN YOUR OWN KITCHEN!
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