A few weeks ago, I was reminiscing with some friends about our days as graduate students at Columbia in the early 70s. After talking about friends, teachers, and seminars, it didn’t take us long before we started to recall some of our favorite bars and restaurants near campus: the West End for drinks and burgers, The Symposium for Greek food, V & T’s for Italian and pizza, and The Green Tree for Hungarian.
The last of these was perhaps my favorite, for it served large portions at reasonable prices. At The Green Tree, I always ordered the same thing: chicken paprikash, which was served with a generous side of small Hungarian dumplings called nokedli. This was pure comfort food, especially during the winter.
Since our get-together, I’ve had a hankering for chicken paprikash and have made it a couple of times following recipes I’ve found on the Internet. (My copy of George Lang’s The Cuisine of Hungary having been lost to a flood after hurricane Sandy.)
My most recent attempt at this dish combined several recipes and came close to recreating the dish I enjoyed more than 40 years ago.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 bone-in, skin-on (preferably Kosher) dark-meat chicken quarters (about 3 pounds)
Freshly ground back pepper
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 green cubanelle pepper, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 heaping tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
1 large beefsteak tomato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup sour cream
Thick egg noodles
Trim any excess skin and fat from the chicken, pat dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.
In an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat the oil and the butter.
When hot, add the chicken skin-side down and cook each side until nicely browned, about 6 minutes a side.
Remove the chicken from the pot and remove some of the excess fat from the pan.
Add onions scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and over medium heat cook the onions covered for 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure that the onions do not brown.
Then add the chopped pepper, cover and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring once to avoid browning. Finally add the garlic and cook covered for another 2 minutes, again making sure not to brown the vegetables.
Add the paprika and the flour and cook stirring for 1 minute until the spice becomes fragrant.
Add the broth, whisking until smooth, and then add the chopped tomato. Bring to a boil over high heat.
Return the chicken skin side up in a single layer, along with any accumulated juices, to the pot and reduce the heat to medium.
Cover and cook until the chicken is fully cooked, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles following package directions.
Remove the chicken from the pan and, if necessary, cook the sauce over medium high heat to reduce liquid and thicken the sauce. About 3 minutes.
Off the heat, stir the sour cream into the sauce.
On plates, arrange the noodles and chicken and generously ladle the sauce over them.
Some of the recipes I consulted were Martha Stewart’s Chicken Paprikash, Rachael Ray’s Hungarian Paprikash, and one from We The Eaters. Ray’s use of brined chicken led me to select Kosher chicken for this dish and several Internet recipes, like the one form the We the Eaters website, influenced by use of the cubanelle pepper.
Wine Pairing: Merlot