here is a wonderful cold weather meal that is super tasty and comforting. i love the warm, toasty flavor of smoked paprika. this dish is traditionally paired with cold cottage cheese or sour cream for a creamy contrast. i chose to use cottage cheese because i really like the texture of cottage cheese and find it nutritionally dense. it’s loaded with more protein than any other dairy product, a satiating amount of fat, and low in carbohydrates.
i think many folks tend to shrug off hungraian foods as bland, overly salty, and boring. i find hungarian foods quite interesting, and can not help but be impressed by their story of struggle. these were foods created out of lack of money and fresh produce as we know it. many dishes are based around root vegetables and tubers, aside from the obvious meat, and stretched through a family of 8 throughout a week’s time. pots of stews and goulash were left on the stove for hours to simmer while work was done outside the house. this means lots of rich gravy, salty bone broths, and slowly cooked roots that are sweetened with time spent lingering with meat juices. pair these savory riches with the sweet, cold cheeses and creams and i am having a flashback from my childhood of my grandmother making stews with her hungarian sister-in-laws that i’ll never forget. -all of the early mornings in the kitchen cranking noodles out by hand, kifli and linzer pastries… how am i not diabetic?
every family has a different version of this, but the staples remain: lots of smoked paprika, chicken, broth, cream, and onions. many flavors of paprika differ. hot paprika is really, surprisingly, super spicy. use with caution. sweet paprika and smoked paprika are what most american families use. i like to use a combo of all 3.
on to the recipe.
add and subtract ingredients that you should need to use up, it’s what the hungarians would do. -but don’t go overboard.
let’s keep it authentic, please. out of respect for aunt mary and aunt ethel.
use sour cream in place of cottage cheese if you wish, but don’t skip it. the hungarians wouldn’t skip it.
add a little rosemary to the simmering pot if you wish, but not too much. fresh herbs were rarely available in abundance.
feel free to use any broth you might already have, or make your own from that chicken carcass you have in the freezer. use it up! it’s what the hungarians would do.
keep it real! use free-range chicken if it is available to you. if you have chickens in your yard, chase one down yourself. work for your dinner! aunt mary and ethel would… heck, they probably did.
we roasted red beets in the oven as a side. this would be awesome served over potatoes.
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1 small yellow onion
3 or so strips bacon or pork belly cut into 1″ pieces
clove or 2 garlic, minced
3 cups chicken or beef broth
2 tbsp smoked hungarian paprika
2 tsp salt
1-2 dried bay leaves
heaping lops of cottage cheese
method: in a dutch or french oven, fry bacon until it releases some fat. remove bacon pieces, reserving them for later. throw onions and chicken into bacon fat and brown on both sides over medium heat. you don’t want to cook the chicken, you just want to brown it.
once browned, turn heat to low and add a few splashes of the broth and the paprika. cook for 3 minutes or so like this, until a nice orange sauce forms.
now add remaining broth, garlic, bay leaf, and salt, and throw in the cooked bacon while you’re at it.. put lid on and simmer for about an hour or so. the broth should thicken quite a bit. if you want it thicker, remove lid and simmer for a bit with lid off. alternatively, you can stick this in an oven at 300 or so for about 2 hours. stir in about 3 tbsp cottage cheese or sour cream just before serving.
taste the broth. add salt or paprika if you need to.
serve chicken in its broth with beets and a little cottage cheese. i even sprinkled a little extra paprika on top of mine because i adore the flavor.
comfort food viola.