Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke)

Whole chickens were on sale this week at $1.67 CDN per pound … so I bought two for just under $13.

I usually spatch-cock or joint my chickens but I decided to roast one whole (1 hr at 400 deg F, covered with a sheet of aluminum foil, and then uncovered at 375 deg F, for 45 minutes) … on an actual roasting pan from my mom’s place, for a change. It was seasoned very simply with dried oregano and parsley and salt and pepper. A sprinkling of sweet paprika helped give it a beautiful bronze finish. A delicious smelling and looking dish.

But the ‘pièce de résistance’ was Paprikás csirke (pronounced paprikash cheerke). This classic Hungarian dish combines fall-off-the bone tender chicken with a creamy sour cream based sauce served over nokedli, mashed potatoes or plain rice, as in this case.

Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke) – serves 4-6

1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 3 1/2-4 pound chicken, jointed
1 medium sweet pepper (red, orange or yellow, or Hungarian yellow), small dice
1 medium onion, finely diced or grated
2 tbsp sweet paprika, Hungarian if possible
1 large, peeled and seeded tomato, diced or 1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup chicken stock
1 tsp salt, plus more, if needed
1/2 cup sour cream, plus more if desired to serve
1 tbsp flour
water as needed

Cut the chicken breasts in half. If they’re particularly thick, cut them in thirds so they can be submerged in the stock. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the chicken.

In a large saute pan, over medium-high heat, heat up the oil and saute the onion and sweet pepper for about 5 minutes until the onions get soft and translucent.

Add the sweet paprika and toast it in the oil for a minute or two.

Add the diced tomatoes with juice and the chicken stock.

Place the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables and add enough water to just barely come to the top of the chicken pieces (about 1 cup.) When the liquid comes to the boil, cover the saute pan with the lid and turn the heat down to a simmer.

Simmer for 1 hour or until the chicken is tender. Every 15 min, check to see that the chicken has not stuck to the bottom and that the liquid hasn’t evaporated. If too much liquid has evaporated, add a bit more water to the saute pan. Turn the chicken pieces a couple of times to make sure that the thicker pieces cook evenly.

When the chicken pieces are tender, remove them to a dish or bowl and reserve.

Remove the saute pan from the heat and using a stick blender, puree the vegetable mixture until it’s relatively even. (You can put it into a stand blender or food processor too.)

In a medium sized bowl combine the sour cream and the flour. Whisk together. Add a ladle full of the vegetable puree to ‘temper’ the sour cream so that it will not curdle. Stir well, add another ladle full of the puree and stir again. Pour the flour/sauce mixture back into the saute pan with the rest of the puree and place the reserved chicken pieces on top.

Tempering the sour cream

Return the saute pan to the heat just until the chicken is warmed through. Taste the sauce and add more salt if needed.

Serve the chicken and sauce over nokedli, mashed potatoes or rice. Polenta also makes a wonderful base for the paprika chicken.

Paprika Chicken ready to serve

Roast chicken

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9 thoughts on “Paprika Chicken (Paprikás Csirke)

  1. What a great price for chicken! Paprikás Csirke is my favourite Hungarian meal, absolute comfort food. Your recipe is quite similar to mine, I like to purée to make a smooth sauce too. I asked my Aunt in Hungary to make it for me some time ago and her’s was not creamy, it was more greasy than anything. Purée-ing the sauce is definitely the way to go.

    1. Food Basics … the chicken were fresh and they tasted really good.

      It’s my first time making the paprikas though I’ve made porkolt with boneless pork in the past and then turned the leftovers into hortobagyi palacsinta. Do you you add caraway seeds to yours? I was quite happy with the dish though next time, I’ll just dice the onions finely before frying up. Since I’m going to puree them anyway, there’s no point in grating them … especially as I ended up grating my thumb knuckle and lost about a tbsp worth of the onion that was too tricky to grate.

  2. Looks wonderful! I actually often prepare paprikas csirke (I posted it years ago…) and I buy Hungarian paprika powder online only for this and lecso; it changes a lot for me… I like adding a dollop (or more!) of cream at the table so that I enjoy both the creamy flavours and the sauce without cream in the same dish. I’ve never had the creamy sauce version…

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