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!
Hungarian Chicken Paprikash
- 3 pounds chicken, a combination of boneless breasts and bone-in drumsticks/thighs
- 2 large chopped onions, divided
- 4 tablespoons oil, divided
- 1 tablespoon Hungarian Hot Smoked Paprika
- 16 ounces sour cream
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups long-grain rice
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add 3 tablespoons of oil, the chicken pieces, 1 chopped onion, paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Brown the chicken on all sides, stirring the onions as you turn it, approximately 10 minutes.
- Then add enough water to the pot to almost cover the chicken. Cover the pot, turn the heat down, and allow the chicken to slowly simmer for about 45 minutes. The chicken should be falling off the bone.
- Meanwhile, add 1 tablespoon oil to a medium-sized pot over high heat. Add the second chopped onion to the pot and sauté for 2 minutes. Then add 2 cups of rice, and stir into the onions. Allow the rice to sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil and stir. Reduce the heat to a simmer, then cover. Allow the rice to cook according to package directions, usually 20 minutes. Once it has absorbed all the stock, stir in the parsley. Remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
Once the chicken is tender, remove it from the Dutch oven and cover it with foil to keep it warm. Dump the sour cream into a medium-sized glass bowl. Whisk ¼ cup of flour into the sour cream until well combined.
- You should have approximately 3 cups of juices left in the Dutch oven—if it looks like much more than that, dump some out until it measures 3 cups. Now take 1 ½ cups of the reserved pan juices and slowly whisk it into the sour cream mixture. This ensures that the sour cream will not curdle when you heat it, so your sauce will be smooth.
- Now pour the sour cream mixture back into the pot and whisk well. Keep the sauce over medium heat until it bubbles and thickens to a gravy consistency. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the chicken back to the pot to coat. Serve the chicken and extra paprikas sauce over the rice.