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Asking friends and relatives which Paprikash recipe is most authentic is as contentious as getting into religious or political debates. Some people’s eyes widen with horror at the mention of including sour cream while others insist that only dumplings, not noodles should be eaten with the sauce. The thought of adding tomato sauce is enough to make quite a few grandmothers roll over in their graves. The one thing everyone agrees upon is that Hungarian hot or smoked paprika results in a far superior dish. Look for it at specialty butcher shops or Slavic grocery stores.
Rather than try to be the most authentic, I’ve made this dish with my own twist. Chopped up pieces of pepper never appealed to me in paprikash but the idea of adding some pepper flavor stuck with me. I add several tablespoons of ajvar; an Eastern European condiment made primarily with roasted red peppers and eggplant. It adds an extra dimension of flavor that harmonizes well with the rest of the ingredients. I made this dish with egg noodles for speed and also used chicken thighs rather than a cut up whole chicken for the same reason. On days when you have the time, making your own dumplings is a fun alternative.
2 tbs. canola oil
1 large onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 package of boneless and skinless chicken thighs (about 8 thighs), cut into bite sized pieces
flour for dredging, about ½ cup
1 tbs. smoked paprika
2 tbs. hot paprika
1 ½ cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
¼ cup ajvar
¾ cup sour cream
2 tbs. fresh parsley, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan, add the oil, onion and garlic and turn the heat on medium. While that cooks, dredge the chicken pieces in flour and shake off the excess. Add the chicken when the garlic and onion has softened, about 2-3 minutes later. Cook the chicken until browned. Stir in the paprika, bay leaf, chicken stock and ajvar. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and the sauce has slightly reduced. Stir in the parsley and sour cream and adjust the seasoning before serving over dumplings or egg noodles.
Dumplings (adapted from Allrecipes.com recipe)
Like biscuit or muffin batter, making a good dumpling is based on thoroughly mixing the dry ingredients and then gently folding in the wet. Don’t worry about a few lumps in the dough.
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Put a large pot of salted water on the stove to boil. While it heats up, combine the dry ingredients. Mix the egg with the milk and parsley and add to the dry ingredients until just combined. It will be sticky! Drop by tablespoons into the pot of water when it reaches a rolling boil. Dumplings are finished cooking when they float to the top.