Once in a while during my occasional extrovert phases I would love my hair to be this color of deep, rich, delicious, Carmine red. I looked up the many shades of red to find the best name for this particular color of paprika and Carmine from the aluminium salt of carminic acid was the closest match. This photo is of the sauce before the sour cream is added which gives it a lighter hue, then it becomes more like a Carnelian Red or Venetian Red.
You can also dye eggs and fabric a light orange using paprika, boiling water and distilled vinegar—what a potent pigment!
Paprika is in my Top Ten list of Flavor Boosters, and giving it more thought it’s probably in the Top Five. It’s one of my kitchen Helpers and I often use it to liven up a soup or sauce that needs a little something—paprika is a subtle powerhouse that adds both depth and brightness. Now that Smoked Paprika is so accessible we can add even more body to a dish without having to light the grill….but there’s nothing wrong with lighting the grill.
They say in Hungary that tables are set with salt and hot paprika shakers instead of black pepper. There are numerous varieties of peppers grown for paprika but the Hungarian varieties are said to be sweeter, possibly because of their growing conditions.
Paprikash is a sauce of Hungarian origin and is often made with chicken or beef and served over rice, noodles or dumplings. Most recipes do not puree the sauce but it adds such a great texture it’s worth the extra step. I also think that partially grilling the chicken thighs (yes, you definitely want to use the dark meat!) gives the dish a dimension you just can’t duplicate. Smoked paprika can help with the grill-like flavor…but there is nothing like real fire.
Prep Time: 15 minutes for the sauce, 10-20 minutes for the chicken
Cook Time: 15 minutes for the sauce, 15-20 minutes for the chicken
This can be prepped ahead of time.
The Sauce Base
Sauté until onions are translucent:
1 small Onion
1 clove Garlic
2-3 teaspoons Oil
2 Tablespoons Paprika
2-3 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika
1/2 teaspoon Thyme
1 cups Chicken Stock
1 Bay Leaf
2-3 Tablespoons ground Flax Seed, or Cornstarch (if using cornstarch it must be mixed with cold water first— it will clump if sprinkled into hot liquid)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Simmer 10-15 minutes then turn off heat. Let the sauce cool slightly, remove the Bay Leaf and puree in a food processor or blender.
Lemon and Sour Cream will be added just before serving—see below.
For the Best Tasting version, partially grill:
2 pounds Chicken Thighs with Bones or 1 1/4 pounds Boneless Chicken Thighs, sprinkled with
Paprika and Salt
For the Second Best version, sear the thighs in a hot pan with oil. Remove from heat.
If using boneless thighs, slice the chicken into strips before adding it to the Paprikash sauce in a saucepan.
Cover and finish cooking the chicken in the sauce at a low simmer.
Before serving stir in:
Dash of Lemon Juice
1/3-1/2 cup Sour Cream
Optional Additions: 1/2 teaspoon Caraway and Dill
Taste and Adjust.
Serve over Rice Pilaf, Noodles or Dumplings and sprinkle with chopped Parsley.
If you’re in the area be sure to check out the Paprika Museum in southeastern Hungary.