Chicken Paprikash w/ Hot Buttered Spaetzle

With this recipe I should point out that I am neither German nor Hungarian in heritage. I am in fact Irish…and a massive lover of food (If you’ve ever seen me you’d be able to tell trust me!) Aside from baking, this love particularly includes comfort food.  You know the type of food- dishes crafted from seemingly humble ingredients and resulting in that sublime feeling of snug…content…”Hygge” to use the Nordic phrase.

This dish was one that on my first attempt I tentatively made my way through. Most of the recipes I researched commented that care needs to be taken with the paprika, if it’s dry cooked too long it can scorch giving the dish an underlying acrid taste. Next, care had to be taken when adding the soured cream/ cream mixture. If you dump it straight into the pan with the paprika mixture there’s a very high chance of it splitting and curdling the sauce, flecking it with gloopy, white nodules. Whilst it’s still edible it is no where on par with the velvety smooth, ochre sauce that you get by taking that little additional step of tempering the cold cream mixture with a few tablespoons of the hot paprika sauce.

Now, after making it a number of times, I can navigate the recipe with that intrinsic muscle memory that is so synonymous with cooking or baking comfort food dishes. It’s very easy to see why this dish has stood the test of time.

As well as the chicken paprikash I’ve included a recipe for spaetzle. For me the two go together like every cliched pairing you could think of. Spaetzle (“Little Sparrows) are toothy little dumplings of German origin. I first had these in a Bavarian restaurant in Vermont having ordered them not knowing what to expect. When they arrived I was prepared for something like pasta from the visual. I was more than pleasantly surprised upon first bite at how chewy they were, with an addictive density smothered in rich butter. A beautiful love affair was born!

Try these out- you won’t be disappointed!

Ingredients

Serves 4*

*for this dish I usually serve 1-2 drumsticks and 2 thigh pieces per person.

  • 8 drumstick portions of chicken
  • 8 thigh potions of chicken
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 1/2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika (at a push you can use standard paprika but the Hungarian variety gives a much better flavour)
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup soured cream
  • 1/4 cup heavy/ whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • Flat leaf parsley, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
  2. In a jug, stir to combine the soured cream and heavy/whipping cream. Add the flour and stir until fully incorporated. Set aside until needed later
  3. In a large pan over a medium heat, brown the chicken drumsticks and thighs until golden brown. Remove and place in a casserole dish or Dutch oven. Place in the preheated oven until needed near the end of the recipe
  4. In the same pan as the chicken was cooked, add the onion sauté until softened, then add 1/2 cup of chicken stock and stir to deglaze the pan of chicken fronds
  5. Add the chopped garlic and thyme leaves and sauté with the onions for a few minutes until the garlic is lightly browned
  6. Off the heat stir in the paprika and stir to coat the pan contents
  7. Return the pan to the stove, add the chopped tomatoes and chicken broth. Cook over a medium heat until bubbling. Check and adjust seasoning to taste
  8. Whilst the paprika mixture cooks, to the jug of soured cream/cream mixture add 2-3 tablespoons of the hot paprika mixture and stir well to combine. Add the contents of the jug to the main pan of the paprika mixture and stir for a few minutes to fully incorporate and thicken. The paprika sauce should now be thick and bright orange in color
  9. Remove dish of chicken pieces from the oven and pour over the paprika sauce, covering and coating all the chicken pieces
  10. Return the dish of chicken pieces and sauce to the oven and continue to bake for a further 10mins. After this time check the chicken to be fully cooked (should be an internal temperature of 165degrees F)
  11. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with the chopped flat leave parsley and serve. Chicken paprikash goes particularly well with a side helping of hot buttered spaetzle (and I just happen to include it below!)

Hot Buttered Spaetzle

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/3 cup milk

Method

  1. In a jug, whisk together the eggs and milk. Set aside
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, pepper, nutmeg and parsley. Whisk to combine and make a well in the centre
  3. Pour in the egg/milk mixture and stir well until combined. The mixture will be quite thick and stretchy
  4. Cover and set the spaetzli batter aside for at least an hour at room temperature. (I usually prepare mine in the morning if I’m cooking them in the evening- a lengthy sitting of 3-4 hours. This helps the dough to develop both taste and texture)
  5. *This next bit depends entirely on what method you use to make you spaetzle. There are a number of gadgets that can be used for making spaetzle. These range from a sapetzle “press” (similar to a potato ricer) to a spaetzle “slider” (looks like a mandolin) but the method I use is with a spaetzle “lid and scraper”.
  6. Place large dollops of the reared batter on the lid and use the scraper to push the batter through. Admittedly this make take some more skill and dexterity but it’s what I’m used to. The main thing here is to use a method that you’re comfortable with.

    Spaetzle lid and scraper

  7.  Bring a large pot of well salted water to a boil over high heat. Whilst this reaches boiling fill another large boil with cold water & ice and leave in close proximity.
  8. *Make the spaetzle according to your device method. With all the methods exercise immense caution as you’re working in close proximity to the boiling water
  9. (Lid and scraper method) Place the spaetzle lid over the pot of boiling water. Take a ladle full of batter and drop it onto the lid.
  10. Force the batter through the device. The batter will form droplets and drip in to the salted boiling water below and let them cook for 1 to 2 minutes until floating on the surface. Continue until all the batter is squeezed through the lid.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to the large bowl of iced water
  11. Repeat until you have used up all the spaetzle batter
  12. In a large pan, head 5-6 tablespoons of butter until sizzling over a medium heat
  13. Drain the spaetzle of all water, add to the butter and toss to coat
  14. Continue to stir and toss over a medium heat until they start to get flecked with golden brown flecks
  15. Serve hot with chicken paprikash

• The spaetzli may be cooked a few hours in advance to the point where they are placed in the iced water. If you want to store them remove them from iced water, shake dry and place in a covered container in the refrigerator. I have made mine the day before, stored in the fridge and then cooked the evening of the following day. Still perfection!