The perfect chicken paprikash can be very elusive indeed.
It can be the focal point of any kind of meal, from the family dinner to
the very festive, and you will never tire of it. Csirke paprikas must
be accompanied by galuska and cucumber salad. It should
be served with just a simple appetizer or clear soup before and a
light dessert after the main course. A dry white wine goes best; a
Badacsonyi Keknyelu will make the meal an occasion.
2 small (2 1/2-pound) chickens, each cut in 8 pieces
(or buy equal amount of drumsticks, thighs and breast)
Salt to taste
About 1/4 cup cooking oil
1 large onion, chopped fine
2 teaspoons paprika
(preferably sweet Hungarian Paprika, you can buy at Safeway stores)
1 medium green pepper, cored and cut in 1/2 inch strips
3 small peeled tomatoes, preferably canned
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
finely chopped parsley green
Serve with Galuska (Soft dumplings) or rice
Wash and dry the chicken pieces. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan and sauté the onion until the pieces turn translucent. Add the chicken pieces, a few at a time, and sauté briefly until yellow on all sides. Do not brown the chicken or cook it long enough for the surface to get hard. As the pieces are done, put them in a side dish and keep them warm. When all are done, pour 1/2 cup of chicken stock (or water) into the frying pan, scrape up any bits sticking to pan, and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt and the paprika.
Arrange the chicken pieces in a deep, heavy-bottomed pot large enough to hold them all: place the breasts and thighs on the bottom, the legs and wings on top. Pour on the sauce from the frying pan and as much chicken stock as necessary to bring the cooking liquid to the halfway mark. Lay the green pepper strips and tomatoes on top of the chicken, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Rearrange the pieces of chicken, put the cover back on, and simmer another 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. (It is done when the breast can be pierced easily with a table fork.) Remove from the heat and let cool. Skim off most—but not all—of the grease. Mix 2 tablespoons of chicken sauce into the sour cream and very slowly pour the mixture back into the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Just be fore serving, bring the csirke paprikas back to the simmer, add the chopped parley and cook on very low heat for 2 or 3 minutes. To serve csirke paprikas, give each person a piece of chicken, dark or light meat, with a generous helping of galuska, and spoon a bit of sauce over both. Pass the rest of the sauce.
There is nothing more refreshing that cucumber salad, and the Hungarian are so right to make it an obligatory course with many of their main dishes (Csirka paprikas, for instance, but not with cabbage dishes). It cuts the fat, as they would say, aids digestion, and leaves you with a virtuous feeling even after a huge helping, since it is almost calorie-free. In a good cucumber salad, the slices are paper thin and limb and they are swimming in sauce. To make the slices thin, use a special cucumber slicer or use a vegetable peeler. To make the slices limp, let them stand in the sauce for at least an hour or even overnight. For six people allow at least 2 large cucumbers (peeled and sliced) and 1 cup of Hungarian salad dressing. The salad is more traditional if you add thin slices of sweet purple onion, and more attractive if you slice tomato and bell pepper on top. A tablespoon of fresh dill could be sprinkled on top of it (and red paprika, or black pepper).
Hungarian Salad Dressing:
Many northern and central Europeans fancy a kind of salad in which the ingredients are essentially marinated in vinegar dressing. The following recipe makes 1 cup of dressing, enough for 2 large cucumbers:
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon sugar (or honey)
1 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
(Optional: a Tbs Olive oil and fresh chopped garlic)
Blend all the ingredients together in a large glass bowl, add the vegetable and let the salad stand for at least 1 hour before serving. Serve in individual glass salad bowls.
3 tablespoon butter
1/2 pound egg noodles, 1/2 inch wide
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs, separated
1 cup sour cream
3-4 cups Cottage cheese (small curd)
1/2 cup seedless raisin
Grated rind of a lemon
Lightly grease a 11/2-quart oblong baking dish with some of the butter, and sprinkle the bottom and sides with bread crumbs, shaking out the excess. Cook the noodles according to the package directions, drain them, and toss them with the rest of the butter. Beat the egg sugar and egg yolks together, and add the lemon rind. Stir in sour cream, then the raisins. Add the noodles and turn them carefully so all are coated. Preheat the oven 350°. Beat the egg whites until stiff, and fold them into the noodles. Pour them into the baking dish, or, if you want to add jam, our only half the noodles in, spread the layer with jam, then pour the rest on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Dust with vanilla confectioners’ sugar, and serve hot or cold from the casserole. You can serve with vanilla ice-cream.
True Hungarian goulash is a spicy, rather thin stew to which potatoes or other vegetables are added shortly before serving. Traditionally, it was cooked in a bogracs, or cauldron, over an open fire. In a modern kitchen it should be cooked slowly in a heavy pot on a low, steady source of heat. It cannot be rushed, but the results are worth it. A good goulash is a meal in itself, needing nothing more than fresh bread to soak up the sauce. The inspired cook can invent scores of variations on the basic gulyas recipe, despite conditions of life in the supermarket era. Bogracs gulyas always tastes best with a dry white wine—a Badacsonyi Keknyelu or a Leanyka. One of the lighter cakes would be the best choice for dessert after any kind of gulyas.
1 large onion, finely chopped
About 3 tablespoons cooking oil or lard
1 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon paprika
t/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, mashed with the back of a spoon
Pinch of marjoram
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 medium green pepper, cored and cut in 1/2-inch strips
3 small peeled tomatoes, preferably canned
2 pounds (about 8 or 9 medium) potatoes
Csipetke (pinched noodles) (optional)
Using a Dutch oven or a heavy casserole with a cover, sauté he onion in 3 tablespoons of oil or lard until it wilts. Remove to side dish. Pat the meat dry and brown it, using more oil or lard if necessary. Put the meat in the side dish. Pour l/2 Cup of water into the pot, scrape up the juices and stir in the paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the garlic. Put the beef and
onions back in the pot, and add enough stock to cover the meat by
inches. Simmer for 1 hour, covered, adding more stock (or water) as necessary to keep the meat well covered with sauce. Mix in the green pepper strips and tomatoes and continue simmering. Peel the potatoes and cut them in 1/2-inch diced keep them in cold water until ready to use. When the gulyas has been simmering for 1 1/2 hours, stir in the potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt and enough water to cover them. Simmer another 25 minutes, partially covered, or until the potatoes are done. Ideally, gulyas has the consistency of a good Manhattan clam chowder, though it can also be somewhat thinner.
If it is too thick, add some hot water, a little at a time. Degrease and taste the sauce. It may need more salt. Stir in the csipetke and serve. Gulyas is usually brought to the table in the cooking pot or a soup tureen and ladled out into flat soup bowls.
Transylvanian Baked Sauerkraut
KOLOZSVARI RAKOTT KAPOSZTA
(koh-lohzh-vah-ree rah-kot kah-poh-sta)
Sauerkraut is one of the pitiful orphans of American cooking: a whole generation of kids knows it only as something to put on hot dogs at the beach. What a loss! This is one of the world's most versatile delicacies. In this dish, for instance, it is baked with pork and smoked meats, and the flavors meld—especially if the dish is made in advance and reheated—in a winning combination. Rakott kaposzta is a hearty, country-style casserole, and it needs nothing more than a fresh loaf of rye bread to go with it, though it could be preceded by a light soup. To drink: our choice would be a Badacsonyi Keknyelu, or some other dry white wine, or a pale beer. Dessert should be kept light. Try meggyes retes (sour-cherry strudel)
3 tablespoons bacon fat or cooking oil
1/2 cup chopped onions
1 pound ground pork
1 clove garlic, crushed or finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 pound smoked bacon, cut in 1/4-inch dice (or use thick-sliced breakfast bacon)
1/2 pound Hungarian or other smoked sausage, cut in 1/4-inch slices (optional)
1/4 cup white rice, regular or instant
2 pounds fresh or canned sauerkraut
1 cup sour cream
Additional sour cream for serving
Heat the bacon fat or oil in a heavy skillet and sauté the onions until they start to wilt. Add the pork and brown it thoroughly. Stir in the garlic, salt, paprika, and pepper. Cover and simmer 10 min uses. In another frying pan, cook the bacon until it starts to render fat. Add the sausage slices and cook 5 minutes or until the bacon starts to brown. Parboil the rice for 10 minutes, unless instant rice is being used.
Preheat the oven to 325° Grease a deep 2- or 3-quart baking dish (an 8-cup soufflé mold will work, but use a larger dish if you have one). Rinse the sauerkraut and squeeze it dry. Spread a third of it on the bottom. Put in all the bacon and sausage mixture, including the pan fat. Spread another third of the sauerkraut over this, and dot it with 2 tablespoons of sour cream. Sprinkle with rice. Add the pork mixture with all its pan juices. Cover with the remaining sauerkraut. Pour 1 cup of water into the pork skillet, swish it around, and pour it over the kraut. Then spread the rest of the sour cream on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake, uncovered, for 11/2 hours, or until the food shrinks away from the sides of the dish and the sour-cream topping turns golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 20 minutes. (Kolozsvari rakott kaposzta may be made in advance and reheated; in fact, it tastes better that way.) Serve directly from the casserole and pass a bowl of sour cream for those who care to add a dollop of it.
Nothing should be allowed to detract from this unique blend of pork, sauerkraut, and sour cream. With plain boiled potatoes to set it off and a dry white wine (preferably a Leanyka) to drink with it, it makes a truly sensational main course. In fact, it is the Derecskeys' favorite Hungarian meat dish. We eat it year round in the mountains and at the shore, on festive occasions and on busy weekdays, and we never tire of it. Since the gulyas is rather rich and filling, dessert need be no more substantial than fruit-filled retes (strudel)
3 pounds sauerkraut, preferably fresh or in a plastic package
(if neither is available, use canned sauerkraut)
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 pounds shoulder of pork
1 cup chopped onions
3 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
l/2 teaspoon caraway seed, crushed with the back of a spoon
Boiled potatoes [optional]
Rinse the sauerkraut and squeeze dry. If it still tastes briny, rinse a second time. Blend the buttermilk into the sour cream and set aside. Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes and pat dry. In a 3-quart flameproof casserole, saute the onions in oil until they turn transparent. Push them to one side and start browning the meat lightly on all sides. Remove the meat to a side dish. Pour 1/2 cup of water into the pan and scrape up the juices, then stir in the salt, paprika, and caraway seeds. Put the meat back into the pan and spread the sauerkraut over it. (If canned sauerkraut is used, add it only after the meat has cooked 1 hour.) Pour in enough water to barely cover the sauerkraut, put the lid on, and simmer 11/2 hours or until the
meat and sauerkraut are tender. Add more water during the cooking period to keep the gulyas barely covered with sauce. When done, remove from the heat and let cool. Mix 2 tablespoons of sauce into the sour cream, then slowly stir the mixture back into the pot. Taste and correct the seasoning. Bring back to the simmer. Szekely gulyas may be served directly from the pot or from a deep bowl. Each person should get a couple of boiled potatoes and a generous helping of meat, sauerkraut, and sauce.