Chicken Paprikash is one of those comfort foods that is uncomplicated and unpretentious, yet is full of the legendary flavor that has made it a classic. In other words, it’s easy to make and outstanding in taste!
What is Paprika anyway?
The distinguishing ingredient of Chicken Paprikash is, of course, paprika, most typically sweet Hungarian Paprika. I did an extensive search trying to figure out if there was a particular pepper variety that was the essence of paprika and found that the definition was very nuanced and a “true” paprika was not going to be readily defined. Partly because of this wide-ranging definition I decided to test out a few different blends with our own homegrown peppers.
Paprika, even more so than other spices, loses its flavor quickly over time and deteriorates into a bitter ground spice. If you don’t want to dry, smoke or grind fresh peppers that you get at the farmers market or grocery store, get the freshest sweet Hungarian paprika you can find. (*note: we will be sending out some dried and smoked peppers in our Christmas boxes if you want to make your own.)
Blending Peppers for a Homegrown Paprika
Since I had a bumper crop of peppers this year, I had the luxury of experimenting with making different kinds of paprika. We dried and smoked most of our pepper crop, ground the dried peppers in a coffee grinder, and then began mixing different pepper varieties into some unique and remarkable paprikas.
First up was a sweet paprika made with sweet banana peppers and the ruby red Lipstick sweet pepper variety. Next we tried a semi-hot paprika made with sweet bell peppers and medium hot Anaheim-type of peppers. The third test was a very hot paprika made with a Thai type of chile pepper called Gong Bao and a bit of Habanero. The final paprika we tried was a smoked variety made with Pasilla peppers and smoked Anaheims (Joe Parker to be specific).
In Hungary, where paprika is the national spice, it is divided into eight grades, each one with its own unique characteristics. The one that’s most commonly found in the US is a full-bodied, fruity paprika, and I therefore opted for a sweeter blend in this recipe, trying to stay as loyal to the classic dish as possible. I do like a bit of spice so I used the semi-hot sweet blend that we made from the bell peppers and the Anaheims. It had a touch of heat, but nothing that would turn away those with sensitive palates.
Cooking Notes for Chicken Paprikash
You can be quite generous with the paprika, depending on your taste, but make sure and saute it to release its full bouquet of aromas.
Be a little careful if you add cold sour cream to a hot liquid or it will curdle. Either bring the sour cream to room temperature or add it to the hot liquid slowly.
Chicken Paprikash with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (can use legs also)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tablespoons Hungarian paprika (or paprika of your choice)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/3 cup julienned sun dried tomatoes, drained
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 cup sour cream (can use heavy cream as alternative)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste.
- Melt 2 Tbsp butter in large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, skin-side down, and sear both sides until golden brown, about 2-3 min per side; remove from pan and set aside.
- Melt remaining 1 Tbsp butter in the skillet. Add garlic and paprika and cook quickly until fragrant, stirring constantly. Stir in chicken broth, scraping up brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Turn heat to medium low and stir in sun dried tomatoes, Parmesan, thyme, oregano and sour cream or heavy cream. (add sour cream slowly)
- Bring everything to a simmer for 1-2 minutes, stirring to combine. Return chicken to the skillet and nestle into the sauce.
- Place into oven and roast until completely cooked through reaching an internal temperature of 175 degrees F, about 25-30 min.
Garnish with strips of fresh basil if you want to be fancy.
This dish is traditionally served with dumplings, egg noodles or potatoes, but if you are on a low carb diet, it is a great dish just served up in a bowl sans carbs!