September 2012: Hungary

Quick Facts

Official Language(s): Hungarian
Some Other Languages Spoken: Bulgarian, Yiddish, Greek, Serbian, Ukrainian
Ethnic Groups: Hungarian 92.3%, Roma 1.9%, other or unknown 5.8%

Food Facts: The cuisine of Hungary is known for its stews, soups, and desserts. Though the original settlers of Hungary, known as the Magyars, developed the, now national, dish called goulash, Hungarian cuisine has been influenced by the Italians, Turks, and Austrians, through various reigns from the 15th to 17th centuries. The Italian reign brought the use of garlic, ginger, and nutmeg; the Turkish brought coffee, paprika, phyllo dough, and stuffed vegetables; and the Austrian reign influenced the preparation of cakes and pastries.

Recipe: Chicken Paprikás (or Chicken Paprikash)
Paprika, both hot and sweet, are common spices in Hungary and lend both a spicy and mild flavor to the dishes. One of the most well known dishes of Hungary is Chicken Paprikash. Chicken (bone-in) is leisurely cooked in a paprika flavored broth, along with onions and butter, and then enriched with sour cream. The dish is generally served over dumplings or nokedli (a broad egg noodle similar to German spaetzle). Some recipes also call for a chopped bell pepper or tomato to be added at the end.
Serves 4-6.

2 to 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces, preferably thighs and legs (bone in, skin on)
2-3 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 pounds yellow onions, (about 2-3 large onions)
Black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian
1 teaspoon (or to taste) hot paprika
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream

Salt the chicken pieces well and let them sit at room temperature while you cut the onions. Slice the onions lengthwise (top to root).

Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. When the butter is hot, pat the chicken pieces dry with paper towels and place them skin-side down in the pan. Let the chicken pieces cook 4-5 minutes on one side, until well browned, then turn them over and let them cook 2-3 minutes on the other side. (Take care when turning so as not to tear the skin if any is sticking to the pan.) Remove the chicken from the pan to a bowl, set aside.

Add the sliced onions to the sauté pan and cook them, stirring occasionally, scraping up the browned bits from the chicken, until lightly browned, about 7 minutes.

Add the paprika and black pepper to the onions and stir to combine. Add the chicken broth, again scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and then nestle the chicken pieces into the pan, on top of the onions. Cover and cook on a low simmer for 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken pieces).

When the chicken is cooked through (at least 165° if you use a thermometer, or if the juices run clear, not pink when the thickest part of the thigh is pierced with a knife) remove the pan from the heat. (If you want, you can also keep cooking the chicken until it begins to fall off the bone, which may take another 30 minutes or so.)

When the chicken is done to your taste, remove the chicken from the pan. Allow the pan to cool for a minute and then slowly stir in the sour cream and add salt to taste. If the sour cream cools the sauce too much, turn the heat back on just enough to warm it through. Add the chicken back to the pan and coat with the sauce.

Serve with dumplings, rice, egg noodles or potatoes.


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