Weeknight Cooking

Chicken Paprikash

April  5, 2010

Chicken Paprikash

- Jenny

Who among us does not suffer the tyranny wrought by the boneless breast of chicken? Even with the free-rangiest, hyper-organic, freshest bird, it’s hard to coax from its boneless breast either a deep poultry flavor or a texture that does not bring to mind cheap footwear.

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Some of you have no doubt jettisoned this cut from your shopping list, and committed yourselves forever to tasty -- but often fatty -- thigh or other meat that sits firmly on the bones. Others have moved on, looking for ways to make good use of the breasts through clever seasoning and adornments. (Here's a good example by Melissa Clark.)

But with the delightful discovery of Chicken Paprikash Hungarian Comfort Food, I realized that boneless breast of chicken can actually be the protein afterthought of a dish, rather than its questionable centerpiece.

With this dish, you are simply chopping up the breast and making it submit to the creamy, pungent goodness of Hungarian paprika mixed with sour cream, resting comfortably on a bed of noodles.

Myra explains that this is classic Hungarian comfort food, and anyone who has worked with that nation’s paprika in the past, mixing it with some form of cream and base of tomatoes will no doubt find it the Slanket® of main course meals.

This recipe is well suited for weeknight cooking because it takes place almost exclusively in one pot – save some quick caramelizing of the tomato paste – and calls for minimal chopping. (God love anyone who asks me to slice my onion, rather than chop it.) What’s more, it cooks quickly – I sliced my chicken pretty small and thinly and thus it took 25 minutes to cook, not the 45 minutes the author suggests.

When my 11-year-old came home, slightly rattled from Alison in Wonderland, I shoved a spoonful into her ever-skeptical mouth. In what counts from this child as massive culinary props she mumbled, “That is way, way better than a lot of the weird stuff you test. I’ll have a bowl.” Comfort indeed.

Chicken Paprikash Hungarian Comfort Food

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pound Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup Low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5oz) can Diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 medium to large Yellow onion sliced into 1/8" rings
  • 1 small Garlic Clove minced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Olive oil plus 1 T more if needed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1/3 tablespoon Hot Hungarian paprika (1/2 T if you like it spicy)
  • 2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 cup Sour cream brought to room temperature
  • 1 Package Wide egg noodles or spaetzle put into water when timer from Paprikash reads 7 minutes

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cube chicken into equal size pieces approx. 1"x1" and pat dry. Season chicken with salt and pepper tossing to coat.

3. Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat until almost smoking and add chicken. Cook until golden brown on each side and then remove chicken to bowl.

4. While chicken is browning add tomato paste to small nonstick frying pan over medium to high heat stirring constantly until paste becomes fragrant, concentrated and brown. Set aside in small dish to prevent from burning.

5. In dutch oven that chicken was cooked in add up to 1T olive oil if required depending on fat from chicken and add onions to hot pan stirring frequently until onion has become soft and slightly brown. Approximately 5 minutes.

6. Add tomato paste reduction as stir continuously for 1 minute.

7. Stir in Garlic and cook for another minute.

8. De-glaze pan with all of chicken broth scraping the bottom with wooden spoon. and add tomatoes plus paprika brining to simmer. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

9. Add chicken plus liquid from bowl back to dutch oven and transfer uncovered to oven.

10. Bake 45 minutes until chicken is tender and sauce has reduced by about 1/3.

11. Remove from oven and let sit for 3 minutes uncovered. Push chicken and tomato/ onions to side leaving majority of sauce separated.

12. Stir in sour cream until fully incorporated (will not curdle if removed from heat).

13. Serve over warm egg noodles or spaetzle.

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ErinH April 12, 2010
Ooh...I made it this weekend and it was wonderful! My family really liked it too. It wasn't per instructions--it turned out that not only did I not have Hungarian paprika, I had only about 1 tbsp. of regular paprika left! In a state of panicky agitation, I threw in a pinch of smoked paprika (all the while telling myself, don't do this, don't do this), but my husband took pity on me and went to the store, bringing back sweet Hungarian. I had to use fire-roasted tomatoes too, as it was all I had. (Clearly I need to do a pantry check.) In any case, it turned out delicious all the same. I can't wait to make it again (and double it!). My five-year-old had a lot of fun learning to say "paprikash" as well.
shayma April 7, 2010
gorgeous recipe. love paprika.
phyllis April 6, 2010
I've made a similar version in the past, but cannot tolerate sour cream, so sub Greek yogurt. It also must be added off the heat.

There are lots of fine meals that can come from boneless chicken, especially Asian ones. Not as tasty as boned w/skin, but lots of nice spicing can do wonders.
Jestei April 7, 2010
Greek yogurt would be great in this dish I think!
Loves F. April 5, 2010
I'm not sure which variety is used in this recipe, but my Hungarian/Yugoslavian Oma always uses Sweet Hungarian in her chicken paprikash, and serves it over her amazing dumplings (which she makes bigger than spaetzle, and delish with sugar, butter, and cinnamon the next morning).
Jestei April 7, 2010
ErinH April 5, 2010
I've got regular paprika and smoked, plus some aleppo pepper, cayenne, and red chili flakes, and I'm feeling too lazy to go to the store. Can anyone tell me how they'd use those to substitute for the Hungarian regular and hot paprika? Or just laugh wickedly and call me a name?
Jestei April 7, 2010
Here's the deal: use your regular paprika for the Hungarian and then aleppo for the hot paprika. I can't promise you the exact same result but it should be pretty good. Next time you are at a good spice store get some Hungarian, you'll use it all the time!!