Growing up, my diet consisted almost entirely Greek food. It was delicious and well-prepared and I was incredibly lucky to have two parents who were both very gifted in the kitchen, but it was a pretty sheltered diet that at times left me in situations similar to the little girl in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (‘You’re eating moose kaka?!?’ Ummmm it’s moussaka….ahem.) Eventually, my mom’s parents moved from Indiana to be closer to us here in Oregon, and that’s the first time I ever had something strikingly different, and that was Hungarian food. My grandmother was born in Chicago to two Hungarian immigrants and my great-grandmother was, as the family gossip goes, a ridiculously good cook. Poppy seed rolls, spatzle, goulash, paprikash (pretty much all the -ashes), this woman could make it all and make it damn good. My grandma and Grandpa made Hungarian food from time to time for us grandkids, and my favorite dish they made was onions and cabbage sautéed with pork sausage. It was salty, sour, and full of smokey pork flavor. Not the type of dish most children love, but I also ate pickled octopus as an after school snack, so the childhood delicacy of my tastebuds was long gone by that point.
My grandparents have been gone for a long time now, but every so often I like to make a little Hungarian dish that I know they would’ve liked. And they *definitely* would have liked this one. Now, I know it’s not an attractive dish. In fact, it’s probably one of the most unattractive dishes I’ve made in a good, long while. BUT, it is also incredibly delicious. Like, really really ridiculously good. Basically, the onions and bacon sauté in the pan until the bacon gets crispy and the onions start to caramelize, then the chicken gets seared in the bacon and onion juices, and then whole thing braises in a wee bit of a homemade chicken stock. Meanwhile, you use the chicken stock to make this delightfully rich sour cream and paprika sauce.
I used a mixture of sweet Hungarian paprika and McCormick’s Hot Hungarian Paprika for this recipe, which I think was key. The hot paprika cuts through the richness of the dish and leaves you with just the slightest and most pleasant trace of heat, and the sweet paprika compliments the caramelized onions and bacon crisps perfectly. You then pour the paprika sauce over the chicken and let it sit and soak up the juices while you make some homemade spatzle, which is pretty much the easiest homemade dumpling/pasta ever. You don’t have to worry about shaping it at all, you just scrape it off a 1/2 teaspoon into a boiling pot of water, whatever shape it may be, and it cooks up into all sorts of interesting spirals and bobs. The spatzle itself is just water, flour, salt, and an egg mixed together. I added fresh chopped parsely to the dough for a bit of green and fresh flavor to contrast with the creamy sauce, but you could really mix in any fresh or dried herb you want. Spatzle is as versatile as it is simple. So, if you’re looking for a rich and comforting meal to make during the coming cold months, I highly recommend giving this a whirl. It may not make for the prettiest dinner, but it certainly makes for good eatin’.
Braised Chicken With Hot Hungarian Paprika & Homemade Spatzle
Braised Chicken with Hot Hungarian Paprika
- 8 slices bacon chopped
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon McCormick Hungarian Hot Paprika
- 2 and 1/2 teaspoons regular paprika
- 1 2 to 3 pound chicken, cut into legs, breasts, and wings (innards reserved)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons quick chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2/3 cup whole or 2% milk
- 1 and 1/2 cups full-fat sour cream
- 2 and 1/3 cups flour
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup water
- 1 egg whisked
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
Quick Chicken Stock
- 4 cups water
- Neck heart, and liver from inside the chicken
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley sprigs
- 1 large shallot
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- First, prepare the quick chicken stock. Mix together all ingredients in a medium-sized saucepot over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and allow to simmer for 1 hour.
- About 30 minutes in to the simmering time, you can start preparing the braised chicken with hot Hungarian paprika. Cook the bacon and onion together in a large skillet over medium heat until the onions are lightly golden around the edges and the bacon is crispy. Remove the bacon and onions from the pan and set them aside, leaving the remaining juices in the skillet.
- In a flat bowl, mix together the flour, salt, 1 teaspoon of the hot Hungarian paprika, and 1/2 teaspoon of the regular paprika. Place each piece of chicken in the bowl and lightly coat with the flour mixture. Place the chicken pieces in the skillet and cook until lightly browned on each side. Add 2 tablespoons of the quick chicken stock to the skillet, cover, and bring the heat dow to low. Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, you can begin making the paprika sauce. Melt the butter over medium heat and whisk in the flour until a paste forms. Add 1 cup of the quick chicken stock and whisk until completely combined. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil and allow to cook for 4 minutes. Slowly add the milk to the sauce, followed by the remaining tablespoon hot paprika and 2 teaspoons normal paprika, whisking constantly until combined. Once the mixture is hot but not boiling, remove it from heat and whisk in the sour cream and then the reserved bacon and onion bits. The sauce should now be very thick.
- Pour the sauce over the chicken in the pot and allow to simmer for 8 minutes, uncovered. Then remove from heat, cover, and set aside.
- To prepare the spatzle, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Mix together the flour, parsley, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and set aside. In a small bow, whisk together the egg and 1 cup water until well-blended. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir until a thick dough forms. Drop the dough into the boiling water in even 1/2 teaspoon-fulls.
- Once they rise to the top of the water, cook them for an additional 5-8 minutes, or until they are soft (not stiff) when you press them against the side of the pot with a fork. Remove with a slotted spoon, shake off excess water, and place them in a bowl as they finish. Toss them with the olive oil and then lay them out on a serving platter. Top with the chicken and sauce and serve immediately.