Our first challenge of the new year coincides with my dad’s birthday. Our family tradition is for my mom to make chicken paprikas to celebrate the big day. It’s always a special occasion, because she makes it exactly once a year. Why? As delicious as it is, it’s not the healthiest dish in the world. Her recipe calls for a dozen eggs, plus sour cream, and butter…definitely not a low-calorie or low-fat meal.
But absolutely delicious.
Chicken paprikas is a traditional Hungarian stew that usually incorporates chicken, onions, butter, paprika, and sour cream. Many recipes also call for tomatoes and green bell peppers, though my mom has always left these ingredients out. My family has Hungarian roots, and this recipe has been passed down through the generations, so I have no doubt about its authenticity. (Or its flavor: it’s mouth-wateringly good). Chicken paprikas (pronounced, and sometimes spelled, paprikash) is traditionally served with dumplings. We use old-fashioned metal dumpling makers to make ours.
True to its name, the most important ingredient is paprika. And it’s got to be Hungarian paprika – a nice combination of sweet and pungent. I never buy any other type. (Shout out to my ancestors!).
Recipes such as this were meant to be passed down. I like to think my grandkids’ grandkids will be enjoying this same dish 50 years from now. It’s not particularly complicated to make, but it is time-consuming. My lone attempt, about ten years ago, resulted in dumplings that were thinner and not quite as flavorful as my mom’s. So for this food challenge, Tara wanted to see if she could replicate my family’s famous chicken paprikas recipe.
How’d she do? Let’s hear it from her!
Well, according to everyone’s slurping and munching at the dinner table, I did pretty well.
I absolutely adore my mother-in-law and was looking forward to having her teach me this family dish. I chopped onions while she threw butter into the pots. I seasoned the chicken thighs and legs while she told me not to use too much pepper. And then I beat the dozen eggs and too slowly added flour until the dumpling batter reached the right consistency; halfway between pancake batter and a quick bread dough. She poured the batter while I cranked the dumpling maker.
*insert dirty joke here*
The dumplings (similar to spaetzel) cooked in boiling water and then were later added to the sauce. The sauce came together quickly after removing the stewed chicken and straining the onions. The reserved cooking juices were combined with equal parts sour cream and water…and another egg. The dumplings were added to the sauce and brought to a boil.
Yes, labor intensive, but not as bad as I thought it would be. Not anymore so than my mom’s Chicken ‘n Noodles or Chicken Chimichangas. The flavor is wonderful and definitely worth all the hard work. The real test will be when I make it without Carol’s guiding hand. I ‘m looking forward to getting the recipe down pat, and passing it on to younger generations!
We all agreed, the paprikas turned out fantastic. And trust me, we’re tough critics when it comes to this dish! Job well done, Tara. You singlehandedly – and easily – accomplished the first of this year’s food challenges: recreating a favorite family recipe.
On to the next!