Chicken paprika ready to serve. (Photo by Patricia Schied)

Chicken paprika ready to serve. (Photo by Patricia Schied)

Cooking for Pleasure: Secret to this chicken paprika is authentically fresh Hungarian spice

How to use up chicken breasts has been a life-long problem for me. While my dog was alive, I would cut up a whole chicken, eat the dark meat and cook the breast meat for him. That is until one day he took one sniff at his bowl, turned up his nose and walked away. From that day forward, I had to slather the meat with peanut butter for him to eat it, or worse, give him part of my steak.

Now that he is gone there are two whole breasts in my freezer. Feeling guilty about not using them, I decided to make some chicken paprika with one of them. It provided about a pound and a half of boneless chicken meat and fed four people. I served it on top of buttered, cooked egg noodles. If you have any leftovers, they will taste even better the next day for a great lunch or dinner.

Chicken breasts after being cooked with fresh paprika. (Photo by Patricia Schied)

Chicken breasts after being cooked with fresh paprika. (Photo by Patricia Schied)

The most important part of this recipe is the Hungarian paprika. It must be fresh or the recipe won’t have the lovely, intense flavor that you need to make this a truly wonderful dish. If it is not available in your local grocery store, it can be found in one of Juneau’s spice stores.

This dish is elegant enough for a company dinner and also quick enough to fix for a weekday meal.

INGREDIENTS:

1 ½ to 2 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into serving-size filets

1 medium onion, minced (about one cup)

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tablespoon tomato paste (if using from a can, freeze the remainder in one tablespoon quantities. You will be glad you did)

1/ 2 cup dry white wine such as pinot grigio

One red bell pepper seeded and sliced into thin strips

1 cup of chicken broth

½ cup sour cream

One heaping tablespoon of Hungarian paprika

Flour for dusting the chicken and also salt and pepper

Cooking oil (about ¼ cup or less)

Egg noodles for serving

Chicken paprika being cooked. (Photo by Patricia Schied)

Chicken paprika being cooked. (Photo by Patricia Schied)

DIRECTIONS:

Cut chicken breasts into serving size. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and some paprika then dredge into flour.

In a large frying pan, heat ¼ cup of cooking oil at medium heat. Brown chicken pieces on each side and remove from pan. (They will cook through later).

Add onion to pan and sauté until soft, then add garlic, tomato paste and one tablespoon of paprika. Stir until blended. Add white wine, broth and red pepper slices. Let simmer at medium-low heat for two minutes or until thickened.

Return chicken pieces to fry pan.

Cover and cook for 2 or 3 minutes until chicken is just cooked through.

Remove chicken from fry pan onto a platter.

Increase heat to medium, bring liquid to a boil and reduce it by half to thicken.

Add ½ cup sour cream. Stir to blend and thicken sauce. Remove from heat. Taste sauce for seasoning; adding more paprika or salt as needed.

Return chicken to pan and spoon sauce over it. Return to platter. Serve with boiled egg noodles and remaining sauce.

This is great served with a bright green vegetable and a cucumber salad.

• Patricia Schied is a longtime Juneau resident who studied at the Cordon Bleu in London, has cooked meals for both AWARE and the Glory Hall, and has written a cookbook. She can be reached at patschied@gmail.com. Cooking For Pleasure appears every other week in Capital City Weekly.

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