Go big or go home is my motto when it comes to flavour. There are far too many times in our lives when we must practice restraint so wouldn’t it be reasonable for us to acquire a few outlets for unrestrained excess? Personally, I think making food with huge flavour is the perfect outlet, and what better blank canvas to unleash big fervent flavours than on the humble chicken? Don’t get me wrong, I love a simple unadorned chicken, the better the quality of the bird the better its flavour. However, I’ve got some paprika–laced Hungarian blood running through my veins and I must now and then satisfy my hunger for deep intense flavours.
Chicken Paprikash is a staple Hungarian dish whereby chicken is stewed in a rich and creamy paprika gravy. But don’t let it intimidate you, because unlike the Hungarian language (I speak from experience), this is an approachable and easy dish in every respect. So next time you are in a bind about making something different with your chicken, try this tantalizing dish.
Makes 4 servings
1 Tbs. vegetable oil (I prefer using duck or goose fat here, why restrain yourself now?)
8 chicken thighs or 4 whole legs
1 large or 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large red bell peppers or Sheppard peppers, sliced into slim strips
2 Tbs. sweet paprika
a splash of white wine, water is fine
2 tomatoes, chopped (you can use canned tomatoes or even tomato passata)
1 bay leaf
2 heaping Tbs. sour cream
salt and pepper
1. First, season the chicken, then brown the chicken on medium heat on all sides making sure it acquires a dark golden colour all over. If you left the skin on as I did, make sure it’s crisped up. Remove from pan and set aside.
2. Using the same pan and oil from the chicken, add the onions followed by the garlic. Cook until tender and golden. To this you add the peppers. Continue cooking for a few minutes until the peppers begin to soften. Stir in the paprika and let cook for a couple of minutes longer. You will have noticed that there are plenty of sticky bits on the bottom of the pan so now is the time to release all that deliciousness by adding a splash of white wine. If you don’t have some handy, just add a splash of water.
3. Add the chicken pieces back in followed by salt and pepper, a bay leaf and the chopped tomatoes, the acid in them will also help with the deglazing. Cover and let cook on medium low for about 15-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken pieces.
4. Take the chicken back out again and set aside. Continue cooking the sauce uncovered for about 10 minutes. This will give the sauce an opportunity to reduce, intensifying the flavour because that’s exactly what you want.
5. Now, that the sauce is a dark and intense red, take off the heat and stir in your sour cream. This will give the sauce a deep orange colour. At this point, make sure you check to see that the chicken is fully cooked through. Add the chicken back into the sauce, making sure it’s fully smothered in that rich sauce. Serve with white rice or spaetzle (for a simple homemade spaetzle recipe click: http://tattyapron.blogspot.ca/2014/02/spatzle.htm)