What Is Chicken Paprika?

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  • Written By: Angela Farrer
  • Edited By: S. Pike
  • Last Modified Date: 26 February 2018
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Chicken paprika is a dish that typically consists of pan-sautéed chicken with onions, paprika, and sometimes a few other spices. The recipe's origins are in Hungary, and it comes in several variations that usually differ according to generational family traditions. Some traditional chicken paprika versions include a sauce made from heavy cream, and the meat is often served over pasta or alongside homemade dumplings.

When it comes to cooking with chicken for this dish, some cooks prefer cutting pieces from a whole bird while others like the convenience of using boneless chicken breasts or thighs. When cooking larger chicken breasts, some home cooks recommend slicing them lengthwise into two or even three smaller pieces; this will reduce the skillet time and ensure the meat cooks all the way through. Older recipes often call for the chicken pieces to be browned in lard or beef tallow, though newer versions usually list cooking oils with lower amounts of saturated fats as a healthier alternative. Another method of preparing chicken paprika with a lower fat content is to first remove the skin from the meat before cooking it.

The sauce for chicken paprika can be easily mixed from the pan drippings and heavy cream combined with a measured amount of water and either flour or corn starch. Some cooks also add softened butter before adding the heavy cream. Many American recipe versions can also substitute sour cream or plain yogurt for this sauce. Additional flavor in this dish can often come from adding tomato paste, salt, black pepper, arrowroot, minced garlic, and paprika of various heat levels.

Some cooks like the spiciness of hot paprika while others find it a bit too intense. Sweet or mild dried paprika is a good alternative that is usually available in grocery store spice sections. Another concern about cooking chicken paprika can be how to modify it for those who would like the dish but cannot physically tolerate consuming gluten or dairy products very well. Dairy-free recipes sometimes call for a mixture of nut butter, lemon juice and water to substitute for the cream in the sauce; cashew butter is a popular choice in some of these recipes.

The dumplings for similar dishes can be easily incorporated into chicken paprika recipes as well. These are typically made from ingredients such as flour or potato starch, water, salt, and one or two eggs. Techniques for cooking dumplings can range from frying them on the stove top to dropping spoonfuls of the dumpling dough into a pot of boiling water.



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