When my mom married into my dad’s Eastern European family with their slivovitz (plum brandy), goulash, and strudel, she tried to get my dad’s favorite recipes from my Oma (dad’s mom), but nothing was written in English, and Oma was tight-lipped with her secret ingredients. So my mom watched Oma make this dish -- chicken paprikash -- time and time again to get it right.
This version has the tweaks my mom made along the way, and was one of the most requested recipes in my house when I was growing up. It’s one of my favorite comfort foods: chicken and plump, chewy dumplings, floating in a deep red, creamy gravy spotted with little shiny pockets of oil. It's tangy and sweet, with a slight peppery bitterness when the paprika hits the back of your throat.
One of the best things about making chicken paprikash for dinner? Setting aside extra dumplings for cinnamon sugar dumplings the next morning!
The second photo I've uploaded is of Oma & Opa in the 50s or 60s on their egg farm; the third photo is me cooking with Oma last summer. —Loves Food Loves to Eat
Test Kitchen Notes
Here's a warm and inviting dish of comfort food that's ideal for my 4-person family. The prep was deceptively simple, and I worried there would be little flavor -- but I was wrong. The final product was very tasty and was enjoyed by my 38-year-old husband as well as my 4-year-old daughter. I served it with steamed broccoli, which was a nice side. —Molly Fellin Spence
In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil, and add onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until almost translucent. Add paprika -- it will seem like a lot, but trust me, the more the better -- and stir to combine. Heat through for several more minutes -- adding the paprika at the beginning of the cooking process intensifies the smoky-sweet, robust flavor -- and cook until the onions are cooked through, stirring almost continuously.
Add chicken and stir to coat with paprika, let it brown slightly, and add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then turn heat down and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour. Add more water if needed.
Meanwhile, make the dumplings. Combine all dumpling ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. Mix with bread hook until combined -- the dough will be thick and sticky. In a pot of boiling, salted water, drop in 5 tablespoon-sized dollops at a time, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until cooked through. The dumplings should be slippery on the outside, and bready on the inside. Set aside a bowl-full for the next day's breakfast, and refrigerate it overnight.
Before serving, add the remaining dumplings to paprikash.
In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, a spoonful of flour, and a splash of water, and stir into the paprikash. Add salt and pepper to taste. Give the chicken a rough shred with your fork, and serve in a bowl, as you would a stew.
The next morning, slice the dumplings you set aside, and heat with a healthy-sized pat of butter. Top with a good shower of cinnamon and sugar.