Chicken Paprikash

published May 12, 2020
Chicken Paprikash

This popular Hungarian dish is packed with flavor, calls for minimal ingredients, and can be made as spicy as you like it.

Serves4

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chicken paprikash on noodles
Credit: Dominic Perri

Chicken paprikash, a popular Hungarian dish consisting of chicken cooked with onions and paprika and often served over buttered egg noodles, has been a longtime favorite in my household. I first made it when my son Isaac, now 13, was a baby, because I was inspired to give him flavorful food with spices. My Hungarian husband suggested it, knowing how much his father loves it, and it was the perfect fit. It has a ton of flavor, I can kick the heat up or down, and it calls for minimal ingredients. These are all boons when you’re looking to feed a very little one with the same food that you want to feed yourself.

My original recipe wasn’t traditional, because I used kid-friendly boneless, skinless chicken meat. But we’ve graduated to bone-in, skin-on pieces, which is what’s typically used (although there are many versions of the eastern European dish). This recipe calls for split leg quarters, which are usually sold at supermarkets as “chicken drumsticks and thighs,” with one package containing two drumsticks and two thighs. Alternatively, you may have to buy bone-in, skin-on drumsticks and thighs separately, or you can buy whole leg quarters (the drumsticks and thighs still connected) and split them in half yourself. However you find them, you need four drumsticks and four thighs, total, for this recipe. 

The Best Paprika for Chicken Paprikash

For this recipe, having good paprika is just as important as having the chicken! While you can easily use the generic paprika available at your local supermarket, paprikash is best made with the real-deal Hungarian stuff (labeled Hungarian paprika), which has a deeper, more intense flavor. Freshness matters too. In fact, if your supermarket paprika has been hanging around your spice cabinet for a few years, do yourself a favor and get a new stash.

If you want a little heat, use a combination of sweet and hot Hungarian paprika. Or, if it’s easier, add a little cayenne in addition to the sweet paprika called for. Just keep in mind that even 1/4 teaspoon cayenne goes a long way to spice things up.

Chicken Paprikash

This popular Hungarian dish is packed with flavor, calls for minimal ingredients, and can be made as spicy as you like it.

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 4

    bone-in, skin-on chicken leg quarters, split

  • 3/4 cup

    sour cream

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    salt, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 tablespoon

    neutral oil, such as grapeseed

  • 1 tablespoon

    unsalted butter

  • 1

    large onion, thinly sliced

  • 3

    large garlic cloves, finely minced or grated

  • 3 tablespoons

    sweet Hungarian paprika or a combination of sweet and hot paprika

  • 3 cups

    chicken stock (homemade or store-bought)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    lemon juice (from about 1/4 a juicy lemon)

  • Fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

  • Buttered egg noodles, for serving

Instructions

  1. If you have time, remove the chicken from your refrigerator up to 1 hour before cooking. Also take the sour cream out of the refrigerator as soon as possible to come to room temperature. When ready to cook, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season it with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper, evenly dividing them between both sides of all the chicken pieces. Heat the oil and butter in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Once the butter begins to foam, add the chicken skin side down, making sure to press it as flat as possible onto the hot surface, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes. Flip and cook the other side for 7 to 8 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook for 3 minutes and, using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir occasionally to scrape up the crispy bits as you go. Add the garlic and cook for 3 minutes longer. Add the paprika and, stirring constantly to prevent it from burning, cook for 1 minute.

  3. Add the stock and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, and stir to incorporate. Return the chicken to the pan along with any accumulated juices and adjust the heat to bring to a simmer. If you want to maintain crispy skin, be sure to return the chicken to the pan skin side up and leave it that way for the entire 12 to 15 minutes. If you’d rather have stewed-style chicken, flip the chicken halfway through the cooking time; you can pull the skin off before serving.

  4. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes; an instant-read thermometer should register 165°F (75°C) at the thickest part of the leg and thigh. Transfer the chicken to a plate.

  5. Place the room-temperature sour cream in a medium bowl and carefully spoon small amounts of the hot sauce from the pan into the sour cream to temper it, mixing each spoonful in before adding the next. Once you’ve added enough hot sauce to make the sour cream very warm to the touch, add all of it to the sauté pan and stir well to incorporate.

  6. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with more lemon juice salt, and pepper, if needed. Return the chicken to the sauté pan and garnish with parsley, if desired, before serving immediately on top of buttered egg noodles.

Recipe Notes

Excerpted from Winner! Winner! Chicken Dinner © by Stacie Billis, used with permission of Storey Publishing.

Split leg quarters are usually sold at supermarkets as “chicken drumsticks and thighs,” with one package containing two drumsticks and two thighs. Alternatively, you may have to buy the bone-in, skin-on drumsticks and thighs separately, or you can buy whole leg quarters (the drumsticks and thighs still connected) and split them in half yourself. You need four drumsticks and four thighs, total, for this recipe.