Rich and creamy Hungarian Chicken Paprikash (Paprikas) is a family tradition that brightens the dinner table.
Lt. Dan’s great-grandmother, Grandma Rosie, passed away in 2009 at the ripe old age of 96. I remember sitting in her living room eating the pirouette cookies she always served us, and sipping tall glasses of Sprite.
She would tell us of her ballroom dancing days, and her career as the executive secretary at Studebaker. We watched Notre Dame football games together, and she’d keep stats in a little notebook. I miss her.
Nowadays, the rest of the family keeps her stories alive. Several years ago Lt. Dan’s grandparents came to visit us. Mo and Papa were a lively pair with wonderful memories of family and travel. For years, Mo was my surrogate grandmother, as my last living grandma passed away when I was sixteen. It was wonderful to marry into a family with a certain fire (and the genes) required for longevity!
Time spent with Mo and Papa was filled with colorful tales… Laced with laughter and head-shaking. After 59 years of marriage, they seemed to truly hold many of life’s secrets. We were always thrilled to shower in their overflowing wisdom.
Their strong Hungarian heritage provided cultural traditions and meals that I was previously unfamiliar with. One particular dish seemed to be the family favorite, Hungarian Chicken Paprikash.
Melt-in-your-mouth chicken and Hungarian rice smothered in a rich, creamy paprika sauce. Traditionally it was made with rabbit meat, when families actually caught their dinner instead of picking it up at the market. Mo described Hungarian cooking as “working man’s food.” Simple, inexpensive, utilitarian meals meant to fill empty bellies.
Hungarian dishes are not glamorous… Yet I always find them comforting and flavor-packed!
Mo passed away this year. This is my last photo of her cooking.
Mo taught me to make Hungarian Chicken Paprikash on that visit. It’s always fun writing a recipe from a grandma-inspired dish, because grandmas cook by feel.
“Add enough flour until it looks right.”
“Stir it until it’s done.”
I definitely had to remake this one on my own a few times, to properly record measurements and times.
I’ve made two small adjustments to Mo’s original recipe to suit my family.
First, Mo cooked as if she was feeding the whole neighborhood. (She probably did!) So I’ve scaled the recipe back to feed 4. Also Mo used sweet paprika, but we like all things spicy around here, so I added hot smoked paprika.
Mo agreed, it really wasn’t overpowering, mixed in with the sour cream. Just a little extra kick!
One more thing, Mo uses boneless skinless chicken breasts and some drum sticks or thighs in her Hungarian Chicken Paprikash recipe. The breasts end up so tender, you can cut them with your fork, while the bones and skin from the drumsticks create depth of flavor.
When I make Hungarian Chicken Paprikash, I always remember Grandma Rosie and Mo, and the marvelous meals and memories we shared. This is a dish we enjoy throughout the fall and around the holidays.
It brings a smile to my face to know my kids will carry on the tradition of Hungarian Chicken Paprikash made with love!
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