The first time I ever heard of Hungarian Chicken Paprikash was when we were invited over to a friend’s home for dinner. The host was Hungarian by descent. Her grandmother was from Hungary and had been making the flavorful, creamy chicken dish with dumplings until her final days. Now my friend was making it for our dinner and she had me taste the sauce as it simmered. Wowza. It was de-li-ci-ous.
There are two things I love about Paprikash. First, I love the depth of flavor from this dish when only using a handful of ingredients: chicken, stock, onions, garlic, paprika, parsley, sour cream and of course, dumplings. That’s it! The second thing I love about paprikash is the paprika. You cannot make paprikash without paprika and you cannot make it without Hungarian paprika – all 3 Tablespoons of it! This is not the paprika you sprinkle on deviled eggs or the smoked kind you smother on ribs. Hungarian paprika is it’s own kind. It’s not spicy, but has a slight sweetness to it. Many culinary experts agree it has the most flavor of all paprikas and the best part? It is sooooo inexpensive! You might, however, have to buy it online or at your local bulk food store. Trust me, once you make this dish, you will buying the stuff in bulk! 🙂
After years of making chicken paprikash, I have nailed down what I think is the best way to prepare it. Call it the “half crock pot and half skillet way.” Cooking the chicken first in the crockpot creates the most tender chicken, but the hot skillet allows the sauce to thicken quickly before you pour it over the dumplings. It’s truly delicious – esp. this time of year!
Let’s get started! Come on in to my kitchen!
Here again are the ingredients. Very simple. You will see white flour, cream and eggs in the picture as well. Those three stars will create our easy-to-whip-up drop dumplings. Literally, these dumpling take just minutes to mix and only 5 minutes to cook.
To start, chop up 2 small or 1 large onion into rings and while you are at it, 3 garlic cloves, but set the garlic aside for now.
Get out your favorite browning skillet (I prefer cast iron) and saute those onions in about 2 T. of oil at medium-high heat until they are starting to get translucent with some crispy edges. Immediately to the hot pan, add 2 of the 3 Tablespoons of Hungarian paprika.
Keep the heat on and toss the onions around so the paprika coats them evenly.
While my onions were cooking, I rinsed and patted dry 4 thawed chicken legs or thighs. You will use these guys in a minute.
Turn your crockpot on low and throw in the hot onions at the bottom. Then, while the heat is still on and your pan is still hot, brown each side of each piece of chicken with a little salt and pepper (about 2-3 minutes per side). You may only be able to do 2 chicken pieces at a time. When those two are done, place them on top of your onions in the crockpot. Brown the other two and do the same.
Don’t turn your heat off yet! Remember that garlic you chopped a bit ago? Put the chopped bits in the hot pan and for only 10 seconds, saute the garlic. It doesn’t take long because garlic can easily burn. In other words, if your kid is calling you to do something and you have garlic in a hot pan, ignore them 🙂
Throw the hot, sauteed garlic on top of the chicken in the crockpot and pour 2 cups of chicken stock on top of everything.
Sprinkle 1 more Tablespoon of that Hungarian paprika and 1/2 Tablespoon of dried parsley on the very top. Close the lid ad cook everything on LOW for four hours. No need to tamper or stir. Just let it gooooooo (Credit: Queen Elsa 😉
After four hours, this is what it will look like. The chicken will be falling off the bone and the juices will be a deep red.
Go head and pull off all the chicken and place it in a large skillet on the stove. Pour over that tasty red juice from the crockpot as well. Discard only the skin and bones. Don’t turn the heat on because you want the chicken and juice to cool down a bit.
While the chicken is cooling, let’s make the dumplings! Don’t let them scare you – dumplings are super duper easy to make. I use an old Hungarian recipe for these as well. For a doubled batch (enough for the sauce you are making), you want four eggs (no substitutions), 2 cups white flour, 1/2 cup cream or milk, 1 t. salt.
Whisk it all together and you will get a thick, sticky batter like this! Now, get a large pot of water boiling. Stat.
Back to the chicken that is cooling – mix in 1/2 cup sour cream and more salt to taste. If you like creamier sauces, feel free to add up to 1 cup of sour cream. At this point, you can call it done, but I prefer our paprikash to be the consistency of gravy. What to do? Easy! Add flour or cornstarch as you would to gravy, turn up the heat, and simmer until thickened (about 10 minutes)
While the chicken and sauce are simmering, let’s finish the dumplings! Using two spoons, drop the batter into the boiling water. They will float to the top as they cook, but you want to want to keep them in the water until they are ALL at the top. In other words, no need to work in batches. This will only take about 5 minutes.
Strain the dumplings out into a bowl and plop some butter on top. These babies can go to the table.
There you have it! Your chicken and creamy red sauce should be thickened and ready to pour over the hot dumplings. Comfort food at its best.
Hungarians would be so proud of you 🙂
- Chicken & Sauce
- 2 small or 1 large onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- 3 T. Hungarian paprika, divided
- 4 chicken legs or thighs (thawed)
- ½ T. dried parsley
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup sour cream
- salt, pepper
- 4 eggs
- 2 cups white flour
- ½ cup cream or milk
- 1 t. salt
- Chop up onions into rings and chop garlic cloves, but set the garlic aside.
- Saute the onions in a pan with about 2 T. of oil at medium-high heat until they are starting to get translucent with some crispy edges.
- Immediately to the hot pan, add 2 of the 3 Tablespoons of Hungarian paprika.
- Keep the heat on and toss the onions around so the paprika coats them evenly.
- Meanwhile, rinse and pat dry 4 thawed chicken legs or thighs.
- Turn your crockpot on low and throw in the hot onions at the bottom.
- While the heat is still on and your pan is still hot, brown each side of each piece of chicken with a little salt and pepper (about 2-3 minutes per side). Place the chicken on top of your onions.
- Keeping the heat on, put the chopped bits of garlic in the hot pan and for only 10 seconds. Be careful not to burn.
- Top the chicken with the hot, sauteed garlic and pour 2 cups of chicken stock on top of it all.
- Sprinkle 1 the last Tablespoon of Hungarian paprika and ½ Tablespoon of dried parsley on the very top. Close the lid and cook on LOW for four hours, undisturbed.
- After four hours, pull off all the chicken and place it in a large skillet on the stove. Then pour over the red juice from the crockpot as well. Discard only the skin and bones. Don't turn on the heat.
- Make your dumplings! Whisk together four eggs (no substitutions), 2 cups white flour, ½ cup cream or milk and 1 t. salt until you get a thick, sticky batter. Now, boil a pot of water.
- Back to the chicken that is cooling - mix in ½ cup - 1 cup sour cream and more salt to taste.Turn on the heat and add flour or cornstarch as you would to gravy. Simmer until thickened (about 10 minutes)
- While the chicken and sauce are simmering, finish the dumplings! Using two spoons, drop the batter into the boiling water. They will float to the top as they cook, but you want to want to keep them in the water until they are ALL at the top (about 5 minutes)
- Strain the dumplings out into a bowl and melt some butter on top.
- Serve with chicken and thickened sauce poured over the hot dumplings.
Meredith is a pastor’s wife and stay-at-home mom living in NW Ohio. She loves to adapt recipes to her family’s eclectic tastes and is learning to provide nourishment for any bellies who walk through the door at a moment’s notice. If not in the kitchen, you’ll find Meredith in front of her sewing machine or spending quality time with her home and church families. Life goes by so fast!