Chicken Paprikás is available in almost any Hungarian restaurant, but if you stick to the touristy places in the centre of Budapest it could well be disappointing or overpriced. I asked Nóri to show me the family recipe that you see here, which can be infinitely adjusted to suit your personal taste! Cook everything in one pot for a quick and easy weeknight meal which also keeps well in the fridge.
Lovely fresh ingredients from the local market. Soon I’ll have a post about where to buy fresh and organic produce around Budapest. I always prefer chicken thighs for the flavour!
Whatever chicken you start out with – whether breast or thigh, bone in or out – the easiest way is to remove the skin and slice into nice generous cubes. I’ve seen a lot of paprikás made with bone in thighs, but sometimes you have to appease a fussy girlfriend…
Everything begins with onion, which was a familiar start for me. As our lecso was quite heavy on the peppers we also added a little bit of fresh tomato to balance things out. I like to get everything chopped and prepared to make life easier once you start cooking. By the way, check out the lovely hand-made knife!
Nóri told me that the golden rule is always onion first, then lecso, then meat and seasoning. Here’s the onion and lecso getting to know each other.
My instinct would have been to brown the chicken separately, but this is apparently totally wrong. In it goes along with the salt, pepper, bay leaf and of course paprika. We used a mixture of mild and (unexpectedly) spicy paprika which worked out well. I’m sure there are no correct answers about the seasonings, only that grandma knows best.
[Update: The inclusion of bay leaves was EXTREMELY controversial, but it tastes good!]
This is where the magic happens! Firstly, sour cream and flour are mixed in a bowl. This thickens the sauce so the amount of flour is totally optional. The quantities listed in this recipe result in a light and “summery” version. To make a thicker, comfort version just needs more flour and sour cream.
Once they’re mixed, it gets combined with a spoonful of the sauce from the chicken and lecso, and returned to the pot. Once it’s had a good stir, everything just need to be simmered on a medium heat until all the chicken is nicely cooked and the sauce is the preferred thickness.
If the sauce ends up a little thick, add some water. If it’s too thin, repeat the process with the flour and sour cream. Adding flour directly will likely lead to the disappointment of a lumpy sauce 🙁
Serve it up with pasta or nokedli (click here for a recipe), a spoonful of sour cream and a little garnish or parsley. Delicious!
Paprika Chicken / Csirkepaprikás
- 4 Chicken thighs / Csirke felsőcomb Approx 0.5kg
- 1 cup Homemade lecso / Házi lecso
- 1 Medium onion / Közepes hagyma
- ½ cup Sour cream / Tejföl
- 2 Bay leaves / Babérlevél
- 1 tbsp Ground paprika / Őrölt paprika
- 1 tbsp Flour / Liszt
- 1 tbsp Olive oil / Olivaolaj
- Salt & pepper / Só & bors To taste
- To start, remove the skin and bones and slice the chicken into generous cubes. Set aside until needed.
- Finely dice the onion. Add the olive oil to a large saucepan and saute the onion over a medium heat.
- When the onion is nicely translucent, and the lecso. As ours was quite thick we added a couple of fresh tomatoes as well.
- Cook everything together for 10 minutes
- Add the cubed chicken to the pot, along with the bay leaves, paprika, salt and pepper. You can pretty much add as much paprika as you like, and ours was a mix of regular and spicy.
- Stir everything together and cook for around 10 minutes, the chicken doesn't need to be fully cooked at this point.
- Add the sour cream and flour to a bowl and mix well to combine. Then take a large spoonful of the liquid from the pot and add to the mixture in the bowl. Once everything is nicely combine, pour it back into the pot.
- Check the seasoning and, if necessary, add a splash of water to reach your preferred thickness.
- Continue cooking over medium heat for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done.
- Serve with pasta or nokedli, a spoonful of sour cream and a sprig of parsley
- Almost all of the quantities can be varied to a certain extent based on personal preference. As this version was made in June, we kept it light and summery by adding only a small amount of flour and sour cream. For a thicker, winter version, you can add extra flour and sour cream.
- The same applies to the paprika. Feel free to add more or less depending on preference, and experiment with a spicy version if you like a bit of a kick.
- If you don't have a spare jar of homemade lecso in the fridge, find out how I learned to make it here.
- This can be served with any kind of short pasta, but to be extra authentic you can make nokedli. Here's how!