Tuesday, October 10, 2006

when chicken meets paprika

three sons of a yiddishe mama leave home to go abroad and prosper. they talk about the wonderful gifts they will be able to give their old mama.

AVRAHAM, the first, says: "i can build a big house for our mother."

MOISHE, the second, says: "i can send her a bentley with a driver."

DAVID, the youngest, says: "you remember how our mother enjoys reading the bible? now that she can't see very well, i'll send her a parrot that can recite the bible... all mama has to do is name the chapter and verse she wants."

a letter of thanks comes from their mama. AVRAHAM, she writes, the house you built is so huge. i live only in one room, but i have to clean the whole house! oy, my son.

MOISHE, she says, i am too just old to go anywhere. i stay home most of the time and i rarely use the car. and that driver you sent is a real pain in the tuchos.

today i needed to cook a chicken i had bought the other day. after flipping through several recipe books, i still felt uninspired and still had no idea what to make.

by chance, i found a recipe tucked away amongst the pages of one book that i was given from my friend's mother many years ago, a hungarian jew who survived the holocaust. this is her simple but delicious recipe for paprikás csirke, or chicken paprikash, as it is called in english. it is a jewish version in that it is not thickened the traditional hungarian way by adding sour cream to the sauce at the end of cooking. it also does not involve any tomatoes or green peppers as is often done with some versions. i am told this is the "real deal". it is made with only the very most basic ingredients which turn it into the most wonderful dish. you may, of course, change it to suit your tastes. the 3 tbsp of paprika sounds like a lot but really isn't after all is said and done. put less if you are uncomfortable with this amount.

chicken paprikash


1 large whole chicken, cut into approx. 8 pieces
2 large onions, halved and sliced thinly
chicken fat or oil

3 1/2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp hot paprika [or regular]

2 c chicken stock
3 tbsp sweet paprika


slice onions and set aside.

cut chicken into pieces skin on, set aside.

prepare the flour mixture in a ziploc-type bag: flour, salt, pepper and [hot] paprika and set aside.

add the chicken pieces to the bag, close it and shake until all is coated.

in a large heavy pot such as a le creuset on medium heat, put a little oil or chicken fat and add half of chicken or all if your pot is big enough. you may have to do this in two stages. you don't need a lot of fat or oil, a tablespoon or two.

fry the chicken til browned on each side, about 6 min per side. i usually cover the pot halfway or 3/4 to cut down on the oil flying out and letting the steam escape. carefully remove chicken to a plate and cook the second batch and place that also on plate when cooked.

in the same pot, add the onions to the oil from the chicken and fry the onions until lightly browned about 10 - 15 minutes. remove to the plate with the chicken and set aside.

to the same pot add the 2 c of stock [if you have a lot of oil left, discard it carefully before adding stock]. bring to a boil and cook the stock for 5 minutes on high heat to concentrate it. to the stock, add the paprika and cook it for another minute or two. it will be a deep red like tomato sauce.

turn down heat to medium low and add back the chicken and onions from the plate you set aside. place the lid on the pot and turn the heat to low and cook gently for 1 1/2 hrs.

after one and a half hours, giving a stir every now and then:

it will have thickened nicely.

taste the dish and decide how much salt, pepper — and even a pinch or two of sugar if it needs balancing — you need to add.

you may add "fake" sour cream at this point [or about 1/2 c sourcream if kashrut does not apply to you]. i have never had it with the tofutti type sour cream so i am not advising it here. let me know if it works, if you try it that way.

serve with small [spaetzle] dumplings or egg noodles.

chicken paprikash tastes even better the next day. big surprise.

note: you may also add sliced green bell peppers during the last 45 minutes of cooking.

& an afterthought ....

here is the recipe for the very quickly made and cooked dumplings that go with the chicken paprikash.

i know these as something called vaiyseh volken, probably somebody's inventive cutesy name for them. it is yiddish for white clouds. this recipe can be easily doubled. as is, it serves 3 - 4 only.

vaisseh volken [white clouds]

1 1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp baking powder, heaping

2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 c water or more as necessary


put up a large pot of water to boil while you make the dumpling mixture.

in a bowl, beat the eggs, salt and water together. mix together the flour with the baking powder and add it in 3 additions. the batter will be kind of gluey and very sticky. you may need a bit more water if it is too thick.

working next to the boiling water, use a teaspoon dipped in the boiling water and deposit small spoonfuls of dough into the water. it will fall to the bottom and cook and then rise.

do this until you have no more dough, repeating the dipping each time.

when all have risen, let them cook for 2 to 3 minutes. drain and either add to the chicken dish or store for later use.


Lisa said...

Hi there, I'm glad I found your blog, and thanks for the comment on my post! This chicken recipe looks greato, and I love the step-by-step photos.

The "chicken" joke was wonderful, too. Really killed me!

I adore my Le Creuset. I have one small saucepan that's at least 40 years old and going strong. And my husband got me an enormous 9-quart one a couple of years ago that, I hear you, is a total workout every time I wrestle it down from the cupboard. This new beige one is just a great size for cooking mostly for two people. I actually wasn't sure about the color at first (I'm used to the orange ones), but still, it's wonderful.

burekaboy — said...

hey lisa,

thanks for stopping by and welcome! :P i, too, can say i was happy to find your blog. champaigne says it all!

i don't know what possessed me but i got the last 2 le c's in a "new" colour (at the time) which was dark grey. some days i love it, others i hate it. i have them in different colours but i still like the beige like you have. somehow, though, that original orange one just screams nostalgia and the kitchens of mothers past. :) i do appreciate their longevity and heat conduction powers, especially for making meat dishes and cooking soups or making stocks.

that joke makes me laugh each time i read it. poor bird. :O

ginger said...

Hi, I'm new to your blog but I wanted to tell you the the chicken paprikash recipe is really wonderful. I look forward to checking out more of your recipes soon.

burekaboy — said...

hi ginger :) glad to hear you liked it. it's one of my favourite chicken dishes.

sorry it took so long to answer you! thanks for the comment and your visit. hope to "see" you again :)

Polina said...

Hi there! Nice recipe -- thanks for posting it!

burekaboy — said...

polina - hey there, you're most welcome. thanks for the comment and visit. not sure if you tried the recipe (or just looking!), but if you did, hope you enjoyed it!

revivingsusan said...

I made this recipe for my Hanukkah party last night, along with the bimuelos de hanuka. And my regular latkes of course! Both of your dishes were huge hits! Thanks so much for the work you put into the blog. I'll be trying more recipes soon.

burekaboy — said...

susan - hi there. very happy to hear that both dishes were a success and everyone liked them :) thanks for your feedback about them - it is much appreciated. hope you enjoy the other things you try from my blog, too. belated happy hanukkah and best for '09!