With the cold snap here I thought it was time to finally share this chicken dinner which I promised to put on the blog a couple of weeks ago.
The dish, from Julia Jeanplong, is Hungarian comfort food at its best. Paprikás csirke, or chicken paprika, is a regular on her family dinner table. It takes its name from the large amount of paprika in the sauce.
While the sauce has a rich and comforting feel (which often comes with slow cooking) using good quality free range chicken breast, means it comes together fairly smartly. Quick comfort food, that's got to be a winner!
Julia’s family made the move to New Zealand in 1997.
Her mother took a role at Woodstock School in Hamilton where her skills in Conductive Education, an active form of learning, which is said to re-wire new connections in the brain, were in demand.
“When we arrived here the first real culture shock we went through was trying to cook the same dishes. They looked the same, but the taste was always different. You have one maybe two types of paprika, that’s it,” Julia says.
“Paprika is the spirit of Hungarian food. In Hungary you have a whole aisle devoted to paprika. Sweet, smoked, mild, spicy.”
Julia recommends using a sweet paprika for this dish and don’t leave out the red peppers which create a deeply sweet dimension as they cook down into the sauce.
If you wanted to adapt the recipe a little, you could use chicken thighs with the bone in and cook this in a slow cooker on a low heat. Julia says make sure you don’t burn the paprika as it can become bitter. Paprikás csirke is traditionally served with pasta and a good dollop of sour cream.
“Sour cream is to Hungarians what tomato sauce is to Kiwis,” says Julia.
PREPARATION TIME: 15 MINUTES
COOK TIME: 40 MINUTES
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 kilogram of chicken breasts sliced into strips
1 onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons of sugar
4 teaspoons of sweet paprika
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 red peppers, sliced
1 tin of tomatoes (or use about four large fresh ones in summer)
Water to just cover the chicken
1 tablespoon of flour
½ tub of sour cream (reserve the rest for serving)
Fresh parsley, chopped
Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan or frying pan and add chicken and brown. Add onions and a good pinch of salt and pepper to season.
Continue to cook until onions are softened. Add paprika, garlic and peppers and continue to fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
Add tinned tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes and just enough water to cover the chicken.
Cook on a medium heat until chicken is cooked through. Mix the flour and sour cream together and add to the chicken, stirring as you add. The sauce around the chicken will thicken. Once it thickens, it’s ready to serve.
Serve on pasta elbows with some fresh chopped parsley and another dollop of sour cream.
You could also add a pinch of chilli when you add the paprika to lightly spice the dish.