Field Notes

Chicken Paprikash

Goulash may be the best known culinary export of Hungary, but chicken paprikash is the dish that steals our hearts. Rich and creamy, the stewed chicken in paprika-stained gravy hits the ideal balance of simplicity and comfort. It’s classic to serve paprikash over small dumplings (similar to Austrian spaetzle) or egg noodles, but we’ve scooped it over rice, and even sauteed kale if we’re trying to keep things light.

A note about paprika: although claimed by Hungary, this ground chili powder comes in several different forms from many locations (including Spain and Portugal). For this dish, it’s worth seeking out a Hungarian brand, and definitely make sure it says “sweet” on the label. We like this one quite a bit. 

Chicken Paprikash

Serves 4

  • 3 pounds chicken legs (about 4)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 cubanelle or hungarian wax pepper, seeds and stem removed, thinly sliced (1 cup sliced)
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ½ cup dry vermouth or sherry
  • Salt
  • One 13.5 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup sour cream

Season the chicken legs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, add the oil and swirl the pan so that it creates a thin film. Place over high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chicken, skin side down (work in batches if you need to; the chicken should have as much surface contact with the pan as possible to render the fat from the skin). Cook until golden brown, about 6 minutes, then flip and cook on the additional side for another 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a baking sheet.

Pour out all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the Dutch oven and return to medium-high heat. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes, until the onions have softened. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two until it is aromatic. Add the paprika and stir to combine. Cook until the contents of the pan look dry and things are smelling toasty (you’re activating the oils in the paprika, which will bring out their concentrated flavor), about 4 minutes.  

Add the vermouth and stir, using a spatula to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Cook until the vermouth has almost completely evaporated, then add the tomatoes and the chicken stock. Return the chicken legs to the pot and stir to coat. Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 35 to 40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through, turning the legs over every 15 minutes or so.

Transfer the chicken legs to a cutting board and let cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, remove the skin (and discard), and pull the meat from the bones. Return the meat to the pot and stir in the sour cream. Serve with egg noodles, dumplings, or rice. Leftover paprikash will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.