Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Csirkepaprikás - chicken stew

A very typical Hungarian meal, and after preparing the basic version one can turn it into a variety of meals. Though it looks soupy on the pic in reality it wasn't. It looked so full of sauce because it was still boiling. When it cooled down the sauce settled, and was just enough to have a nice sauce.

Well, this is the BEST if has all parts of the chicken, not only meat but also bony parts like the wings, breast, etc. So, if you want THE best csirkepaprikás, take the effort and purchase a whole chicken, cut it into peaces, and use all the parts that have some reasonable amount of meat. We usually use the wings, tights, drumsticks, breast for the paprikás and leave out the most bony parts (neck, legs) to be used in a light vegetable soup, like kohlrabi, or the typical Hungarian meat soup.
I was a lazy bastard, so I chose the boneless organic chicken tights this time.

600 g boneless chicken tights, about 1 / person
200 g onion (2 smaller ones, or one huge - the only type that can be found :) here)
2 small, 1 larger yellow pepper, or 1 large tsp of minced paprika (use less salt!!)
1 large tomato
salt to taste
black pepper to taste
paprika powder, 1.5 - 2 flat tsp
2-3 bay leaves, depend on the size
1 bunch of fresh Italian flat parsley
4 tsp sunflower oil
Suggestions: you can leave out the bay leaves and add other spices. Just some to consider - caraway seeds, or few basil leaves (works perfect with chicken) or 1-1 whole cloves, or replace the parsley with celery leaves.. You can also add a tsp or two of Ajvar. 
Play with the tastes, cooking is a game of fantasy and not pharmacy :). 

Chop the onions and yellow peppers. In a 3 quart pot heat the oil, when hot add the onions and yellow paprika, let them fry until "glassy". I work with high heat at the beginning as it is faster, but don't go away from the pot, stir continuously.
Remove from heat, add the powder paprika, about 1 tsp / 250-300 g meet. (See below at OBS.)
Mix well, add some water, about 50ml, and put it back to boil until the the water evaporates and the sauce is reduced back to basically oil only (almost).
Add the meat, lower the heat immediately to about half. Stir until the pieces of meat will whiten, and it releases some juice.
Let it saute for about 30 minutes. In theory (and practice, too) the meat should release just enough juice not to need any water added, but keep an eye on it.
Peal the tomato, cut into small 1 cm (0.5 inch) cubes, and add to the chicken.
Saute for additional 15 min. Add half of the bunch of parsley leaves, preferably tied together with a thin, clean thread. Add 0.5-1 small glass of water if needed. You most probably won't, but who knows.
Saute for additional 15 min. Check the amount of sauce. Don't me mislead, even if it looks much, or enough, when it stops boiling it will be much less. If you like it saucy, add the half a glass of water.
Boil it together for 5 min.
Remove from heat and it is ready to serve.
Bon appetite!

The recipe above is for the basic paprikás version and I'm going to post some variations of it later..

Depends how you like it, or where you live, you might add a flat tsp or a humpy tsp. In Transylvania we used less parpika powder, in Hungary it is typical to add generously. I became used to the Hungarian "generous" version, as you can see in the picture :), but it doesn't mean this is any better then the other. In contrary. I had friends complaining about my generosity when it comes to paprika, so try first, and then decide. This is not a spice though which can be added easily later if found insufficient, and reason is that it needs to be soaked up in the oil to make the best combination.  The only way to add, if needed, is to remove some spoons of oil from the stew, mix it with the paprika, and add it back.

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