Chicken Paprikash has a lot of different variations, usually dependent upon the area. It can range from a creamy brown sauce to a deep red. Some variations don’t even have noodles or haluskis. Just a reminder for folks, we called our dumplings “Haluski”. I know there are dishes out there called Haluski, but what can I say. To my family Haluskis are those dumpling like bits that are almost like very large spatzel. Okay? Feel free to send letters telling me how silly I am. When it comes right down to it, there are only 2 common ingredients that exist in all variations. Chicken and paprika. So with that little intro, I give you the Gregor family version that I grew up with.
1 large chicken, cut into pieces.
1 large white onion
1 pound bacon
2 boxes chicken stock or fixings to make your own.
1 large tub sour cream
1 jar Hungarian paprika
3 cups All purpose flour
Haluskis: Start with 3 eggs, 3 cups flour, ½ to ¾ cup cold water and salt and pepper to taste. Mix the dough thoroughly, but do not beat it down. If you over knead it, the gluten produced will make the dumplings too tough. The dough should be like a half way between a thick batter and pasta dough. Place the dough on a board, and then using a knife cut bits and pieces into boiling water. Rinse the knife in the water after each cut to prevent sticking. When the dumplings float, remove them and set aside in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil to keep them from sticking, and cover the bowl with a warm wet towel.
Chicken: In the bottom of a large dutch over, brown a pound of bacon. You heard me. A pound. Use a low heat so that you render as much fat out as possible before the bacon browns. While the bacon cooks, make sure the chicken is cut up into chunks. Cut the breasts in half, or thirds if large enough. Depending on the size of the bird, I may add in extra legs and thighs. Salt and pepper the pieces, and set aside. Take the large onion and dice. You want a medium dice here. Once the bacon is browned, remove the strips, letting as much fat drain as possible. Toss in the onions, and let them sweat a bit, then add the chicken to just brown a bit. Once browned, remove the chicken and set aside. Add a little of the chicken stock to the dutch oven to deglaze. Using a wooden spoon, make sure you scrape up all the browned bits at the bottom. You want a clean bottom. (coughs) Okay, add the rest of the chicken stock, 2 large boxes. It’s like 8 cups or something. Let this reduce by almost half. Once reduced whisk in the sour cream until the sauce gets a little thick. Add salt and pepper to taste, then add in about a tablespoon of paprika and whisk some more. You want to taste the paprika, but you don’t want it to overpower. Chop up the bacon and add back in, along with the chicken and haluskis. Make sure you have enough sauce to cover all, then put the cover on the dutch oven and place in a 200 f oven. Lets this all cook together at low heat until the chick in done. If you are in a hurry, make sure the chicken is cooked through while you are browning it.
The longer this cooks at very low heat the better. The flavors start to marry, the haluskis start to soak up some of the sauce, the chicken, oh the chicken starts to get to the melting point. Make sure it doesn’t dry out, and add milk or water ( depending on the intensity of flavor) as needed.
To serve: On a nice dark colored plate place some chicken, a few of the haluskis, and then spoon the sauce over. Dust with paprika and some parsley. Serve with crusty garlic bread and a Caesar salad. For a wine, go with a Sauvignon Blanc, chilled to the core.