Chicken Paprikash & A Love Story

“Before I met your grandma my days was cloudy, but after I saw her a SUN shining on me.  Your grandma was my SUNSHINE.”

I made this delicious Chicken Paprikash awhile back but I have been waiting to share the recipe and story behind it.  This isn’t just any Hungarian dish; it’s the one that started it all (in my family anyway).  I have to give you a little peek at the back story behind this family recipe.

Born in Hungary, my grandfather’s mother died when he was 5 years old leaving behind 5 daughters and 2 sons.  He had a heartbreakingly sad childhood as he was cared for by his sisters and was forced to grow up much faster than any child should have to.  As a young adult, he worked 15 hours a day, six days a week until he and his brother were drafted into the Hungarian Army.  Ever the wise-cracker, he said he was the “worst soldier you ever saw.”  His brother was a POW for 4 years during WWII.  Years later, during the Hungarian Revolution, he heard that Austria’s borders were open so he fled to America for a better life, leaving his family behind.

He chose to live in Toledo, OH and quickly found Hungarian friends to take him under their wing.  On June 15, 1958 he drove two friends to a Hungarian Festival and fate took over.  He spotted a beautiful lady and told his friend “if that lady free, she is going to be my wife.”  Soon after, it started raining and everyone ran for cover, he found that pretty lady and they started chatting.  He discovered that she worked 3 blocks from his home so he went to her office every day at 10 minutes before 5:00 and drove her home from work.  This continued for months until he invited her over for lunch and wooed her with Chicken Paprikash.  They were married November 22nd, 1958 and his happily ever after began.

My grandparents were together for 41 years;  they built a wonderful life and I could not have had a better example of true love.  Chicken Paprikash is my absolute favorite Hungarian dish and I am very excited to share the recipe.

Hungarian Chicken Paprikash 

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

Chicken Paprikash

  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 4 TBSP oil (the recipe called for shortening, you can use that if you prefer)
  • 1 TBSP Szeged Sweet Paprika (I sprinkled paprika all over chicken maybe 2T or 3T)
  • 4-5 lbs. chicken- I used a whole chicken, cut up
  • 1 ½ c. water
  • ½ pint sour cream (I substitute with Greek Yogurt)
  • Salt to taste
  • Serve over Hungarian Spaetzle (substitute for rice for a gluten free option)

Hungarian Spaetzle

  • Water with 1 tsp. salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4-6 Tbsp. butter

Method 

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, add the oil then add onions when the oil is hot.  Brown onions the onions in oil, this is such an important step, the onions must be properly browned to add flavor to the dish.  This step may take 15 minutes so you must be patient!  Here are some pictures to help you out:

While the onions brown, season chicken with paprika and salt; add to skillet and brown on all sides.  Add water.  Cover and simmer slowly until tender, checking often (about an hour).  While the chicken simmers begin to make the spaetzle.

Spaetzle

Fill a large pot about 2/3  full with water.  Add about a teaspoon of salt for each quart of water.  Cover and bring to a boil then set the heat so the water remains at a gentle boil.

Use a fork to beat the eggs and milk.  In a large mixing bowl combine the flour and salt with the beaten egg mixture.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth and the flour is incorporated.

With a tablespoon (or a spaetzle maker), spoon small pieces of dough into the boiling water (a size of about an almond each time) until all the dough is used.

Cover the pot ¾ of the way allowing the steam to escape.  Stir occasionally until the spaetzles are floating in the water.  Test one by cutting through the center to ensure there is no raw center.  Pour into a colander and rinse quickly with cold water.  Shake to drain.

Place spaetzles in a bowl and distribute the butter, let melt.

Combine

Remove the cooked chicken from the skillet. Add sour cream (or yogurt) to drippings and mix well.

To serve, arrange spaetzle in a shallow bowl, arrange chicken pieces on top and spoon the sauce over the platter. Garnis with sour cream (Greek yogurt).

Note:  For more gravy add ½ pint sweet cream to the sour cream.

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