Happy late Halloween!
I re-read Dracula this autumn (after 17 years!), and I was surprised to see how much food is featured in this classic novel. Jonathan Harker travels east into Hungary and then Romania, and he is fed by innkeepers and later by Count Dracula himself. The descriptions of food were so striking that I formed the idea to try to cook the food from Dracula. What a creative idea, right?
Turns out I was not the first person to think of this – just Google “recipes from Dracula” and you will see what I mean!
But anyhow . . . I and some friends did make several dishes from Dracula with great success. My favorite was Paprika Hendl, aka Chicken Paprikash.
I make paprikash all the time – and I mean all the time. I make ground turkey meatballs and saute them with bell peppers, onion, and garlic, and throw in a little paprika and coconut oil. Perfectly yummy. But I’ve never actually followed a recipe for paprikash until now, and the difference was amazing!
I just took the first google hit on “chicken paprikash” and cooked it up, but I did add a bit more Hungarian paprika than called for. I am a paprika affectionato since The Moosewood Cookbook taught me to make Hungarian Mushroom Soup back in the ’90s. Yum! You must invest in a good smoked paprika. Here’s my suggestion:
Basic grocery-store standard paprika will not do for paprikash!
Then, I just followed this basic, buttery, recipe:
2 to 2 1/2 pounds of chicken pieces, preferably thighs and legs
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 or cayenne
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 some 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.
I used chicken breast, and I added spinach, because everything is better with spinach.
The bad news – this made my teeny apartment smell like onions. I woke up the next day smelling like onions. I probably still smell like onions.
The good news – it was fabulous! I actually have made this twice in a week. Here it is cooking and plated up: