What is that under all that orange, you ask? Thick slices of chicken breast that have a warm bath of sweet red peppers, a hefty amount of sweet paprika, soft onions, and plum tomatoes in a chicken and sour cream sauce .... this is Csirke Paprikas - Hungarian Paprika Chicken.
This is a meal for a cold, raw night - a meal to be eaten by candlelight - a meal that calls for a nice crisp white wine ... its soft and silky sauce is perfect with buttered egg noodles. An easy roasted vegetable side or a simple plate of salad greens completes this meal. This is comfort food.
SB and I have been so busy throughout the past two months that I am ready to draw in the carpet, lock the doors, and just rest. I have spent the day reading and finishing a knitting project. Making dinner this evening was the last thing on my mind, but when I looked up from the final stitching on my winter scarf, it was getting late and SB was peeking in from his study to ask 'the question'. Looking in the fridge, I found two chicken breasts and some leftover tomatoes. Digging deeper into the produce drawer, I unearthed a red pepper and half a sweet onion. Looking on the top shelf, half a container of sour cream stared me in the face. The sour cream is what jogged my memory of this Hungarian recipe.
I played fast and loose with the recipe because I didn't want a lot of leftovers ... I am still trying to keep the fridge from accumulating too many ingredients and too many leftovers. It's as close to a New Year's resolution as I'll get ... use up the small amounts of things before buying more 'stuff' has been my wintertime mantra. Anyway, it didn't take long to get this wonderful dish simmering on the stovetop. Roasting a batch of Brussels sprouts and boiling egg noodles was an easy finish to food prep ... sitting down to a cozy supper in front of the woodstove clinched the evening. Home, hearth, and a warm comforting supper ... what blessings!
I hope you are staying warm and cozy where ever you are this cold winter night!
adapted from a Sheila Lukins recipe
2 small chickens (2 - 3 lbs. a piece), washed, patted dry, and cut into 8 pieces each, trimmed of wingtips
2 tbsp. lard (I use olive oil)
2 medium onions, small dice
2 tbsp. sweet Hungarian paprika
4 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and finely diced (I use canned and include some of the juices from the can)
1 sweet red pepper, stemmed, seed, and small dice
½ c. chicken broth
kosher salt, to taste
½ c. sour cream
1 tbsp. flour
flour, salt and pepper for dredging
Garnishes: chopped fresh parsley or slivers of sautéed green peppers
Making the Dish:
1. Heat a large deep pot over medium heat and add the lard. Add the chopped onion and soften it.
2. Dredge the chicken pieces in flour and salt and pepper and add them to the onions, scraping the onions to the sides of the pot so that the chicken can brown. Increase the heat and brown the chicken on all sides.
3. Lower the heat again to medium and add the paprika to the pot, stirring it into the onions and oils at the bottom of the pot. When the scent of the paprika is released, but before it begins to brown and roast too much, add the tomatoes and juices, chicken broth, and sweet red pepper, stir to loosen any crispy bits from the pot's surface, spoon some of the resulting sauce over the chicken pieces, lower the heat and cover the pot.
4. Simmer the pot for about 30 to 45 minutes. Don't let the sauce boil ... a very slow braise is called for here. Use a heat diffuser under the pot, if necessary.
5. Meanwhile, mix the flour into the sour cream and set it aside. Boil a pot of salted water for the egg noodles and prepare the side vegetables.
6. Just before serving, remove the chicken pieces to a shallow serving bowl. Keep it warm.
7. Stir the sour cream/flour mix into the pan sauces and let it simmer to a smooth soft bubble. When the sauce is thickened, pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with either fresh chopped parsley or
slivers of sautéed green peppers.
8. Serve with a bowl of buttered egg noodles for sopping up the sauce and any side vegetable that you fancy.