Some recipes for chicken paprikash include vegetables like bell peppers and celery, but not my Grandmother Alta’s. Hers was a simple combination of chicken, onions, garlic, paprika and sour cream. —Lily Julow, Lawrenceville, Georgia
2 broiler/fryer chickens (about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds each), cut into 8 pieces each
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons peanut oil or canola oil
2 medium onions, halved and sliced
2 large garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 cups hot chicken broth or water
1 cup sour cream
Optional: Minced fresh parsley and additional sweet Hungarian paprika
Hot cooked noodles or mashed potatoes
Season chicken with kosher salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven, heat peanut oil over medium-high heat. Brown chicken in batches. Remove with a slotted spoon; drain and keep warm.
Reduce heat to medium-low. Add onions; cook, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan, until onions begin to soften, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer.
Stir in flour and paprika; reduce heat to low. Cook until paprika is fragrant, 3-5 minutes. Add broth; cook, stirring constantly, until smooth, 6-8 minutes. Return chicken to pan; simmer, covered, until a thermometer inserted into deepest part of thigh reads 170°, about 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a serving platter.
Skim fat. Stir in sour cream; heat just until warmed through, 3-5 minutes (do not allow to boil). If desired, sprinkle with parsley and additional paprika. Serve with hot cooked noodles or mashed potatoes.
Test Kitchen tips
For a thicker sauce, simmer the cooking liquid after the chicken has been removed but before the sour cream has been added. The more you reduce it, the thicker the end sauce will be.
The heart of this dish, as its name implies, is paprika. Because of its importance to the dish, we suggest using the best-quality paprika you can find. All spices lose their flavor the longer they're stored, so if you're not sure how old yours is, it might be time to get a new jar.
In Hungary, you'll find eight or more kinds of paprika, all with varying degrees of sweetness and spiciness. In the U.S., paprika labeled Hungarian is usually on the sweet side. For a bit of heat, look for the spicy/hot version, but know that it will pack a punch.
The rich sauce in this dish practically begs to be sopped up with a warm piece of crusty bread.
As with many Old World recipes, there are as many versions of this dish as there are cooks who prepare it. It never hurts to try a few versions before choosing a favorite.