Mertie’s Mondays: Chicken Paprikash

This seems to be Chicken Week Chez Hansen and Tan. When I was a youngster, chicken was a once a week-if-that treat, as the days of battery chicken farms were still in the future, and chicken tasted like chicken. Old fogeys like me complain about the taste of modern foods compared with what our moms cooked way back when (1950s), but we would certainly have complained about the prices. Chicken was very expensive when I was a kid; beef was much less expensive, and hamburger even less costly. So we had beef much more often than we had chicken.

I’ve not had chicken that replicates that lovely chickeny taste recently. Some organic, free-range chicken comes close. HWMBO calls such chicken “Happy Chicken” and always asks whether the chicken we eat is “Happy Chicken”. Today’s chicken dish was indeed made with happy chicken.

I am not Hungarian, neither was my mother or any ancestor I can trace. There are also as many recipes for Chicken Paprikash as you can shake a stick at. The one I kind of followed is at about.com.

You start out with 2 medium onions, roughly chopped. Put around 1/2 stick of butter in a stew pot, melt it, and sauté the onions for a short while, until they’re translucent. Then take chicken pieces (perhaps around 3 pounds of assorted chicken pieces but thighs and drumsticks are best) and quickly brown them on both sides with the onions. Then dump in 1 can of chopped tomatoes, at least 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (I used a whole bulb), 2 green peppers, chopped (if one of them is red, no one will complain), 1 tablespoon sweet or hot Hungarian paprika, around a dozen button mushrooms, and around 3/4 cup of water. Salt and pepper to taste.

Now the mushrooms are not authentic. But, as I’m not Hungarian and I think that mushrooms give an interesting texture to stews, I put them in. You may omit them if you like.

Bring the pot to the boil then turn down and simmer for around 35 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and the peppers are soft.

Once the chicken is cooked through, place it in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil and put that in a warm oven to stay warmed while you finish the sauce. Take 1 cup of sour cream and add to it 2 tablespoons plain flour. Mix them together until the mixture is smooth, and then temper the mixture with a bit of the hot liquid from the pot.

Temper is a term I had never encountered before in this context. Looking it up, it seems that it means adding hot liquid to another mixture and blending it in. I am presuming this helps the mixture to amalgamate and then thicken the sauce. In this case a couple of ladlefuls, added slowly, should do.

Then dump the sour cream-flour mixture into the pot and stir it until the entire liquid is kind of a creamy-red colour. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water and cook some egg noodles. Once the noodles are done, drain them, put a portion in a bowl, then put a piece or two of chicken on top of the noodles and cover with sauce. This is what you get:

Chicken paprikash
Chicken paprikash

I found it quite yummy, and I expect that HWMBO will enjoy it at work tomorrow.

When I make this again, I think I might use white wine instead of water in the sauce, but the jury’s still out on that. I may also try to make spaetzle, which are a kind of very rough German/Hungarian type noodle. I’m told they’re especially good with chicken paprikash. I can hardly wait.

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Author: Chris Hansen

Expat American living in London, now a British citizen as well. I was originally from Marblehead, Massachusetts, and that's where my mom raised me, so my momfood comes from New England.

4 thoughts on “Mertie’s Mondays: Chicken Paprikash”

  1. YUM!! we grow our own chickens and we we eat them they do indeed taste like chickeny chicken-what a great inspiration for dinner.

    1. That is great! I wish I could keep chickens here in London. Tell me, please: what exactly do you feed your chickens? I am presuming that the anemic taste of supermarket chicken comes from an anemic diet and that, years ago, supermarket chicken was fed something else altogether that helped to make them taste better.

  2. we feed them salmon meal, barley and oyster shell as a base food mix–it’s all local made in Alaska food so we support local economy
    plus we let them free range from break up(snow melt) now until the gardens go in about mid May
    then we pen them up for a month until the plants are established
    then we selectively let them out to free range and scratch for goodies and hour or two a day
    once it frosts September 1 we let them out to clean up the gardens and have a blast before 6 months of snow
    we always supplement with table scraps and goodies and we always supply food in their pen, that way scratching is a pleasant past time not a need
    before we harvest we take them off salmon meal and cleanse them on corn and barley–so no fishy taste!

    1. Thank you for your detailed and very interesting reply. I expect that such a diet is too expensive for the mass-producers of chicken and turkey to feed their birds.

      Next time you have one of your home-grown chickens for dinner, do think of those of us who don’t have the privilege of raising our own. Maybe someday we’ll all be able to enjoy tasty chicken like yours.

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