My Hungarian Oma and Opa, along with their two young children (my dad and aunt), walked across the Hungarian-Austrian border in 1956, leaving everything behind-- including Sunday supper which was about to be served-- for a new life in America. Thankfully, they did not leave behind their rich heritage and Hungarian culture, instilling it in their children and grandchildren over the years. I always looked forward to summer suppers in the Catskills, served by Oma with love and enjoyed in the shade of a giant tree with family. One year we gave her a blank family recipe cookbook, into which we were hoping she would pour out her vast knowledge of Hungarian cooking so that one day we could attempt to recreate the wonderful recipes. And pour she did! Some recipes are hard to read as they are written in a mix of English and Hungarian, and most are even harder to recreate since Oma cooked from years of experience, adding pinches here and dashes there. It's rare to see the word "cup" or "tbsp" in the pages of this cookbook. My Idaho-bred mom has done a great job of translating those recipes and is now quite the Hungarian cooking expert! This recipe won me the grand prize in our somewhat-annual 4th of July cookoff. I beat out my sister and two cousins in a Hungarian cooking contest with Oma's Chicken Paprikas recipe, impressive considering the competition and judges which included our extended Hungarian family and friends.
Okay, I'll quit rambling and just share the recipe now.
3.5 lbs chicken pieces (this time, I was lazy and used 2lb of boneless chicken breasts)
1 medium chopped onion
2 tbsp oil
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp paprika (please use a more-expensive Hungarian brand and not McCormicks)
3/4 cup water
1 carrot, diced
1 green pepper, diced (I added a 1/2 of a red pepper as well, since it was in the fridge)
1 medium tomato, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp flour
Heat the butter and oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the water, cover the skillet, and steam the onion over low heat until soft (about 5-10 minutes).
Add the chicken, tomato, carrot, and paprika. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook for 35 minutes or until chicken is tender. Add the green pepper after 25 minutes of cooking,
Mix sour cream and flour in a small bowl, then stir into the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve over nokedli (spaetzle in German) - recipe follows.
Nokedli (I modified Oma's recipe to include nutmeg, which really adds a great flavor)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp ground nutmeg
dash ground white pepper
1 tsp salt
1 gallon boiling water
Mix together flour, salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. Beat eggs well and add alternately with the milk to the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.
Bring a large pot of water to boil and reduce heat so that it's simmering good but not a giant rolling boil. Drop dough through a spaetzle-maker into the boiling water in batches - don't crowd them! If you don't have a spaetzle-maker, you can just drop little dollops quickly into the water or fashion one with a large colander. Be creative! Cook nokedli for 5-8 minutes then remove from water and set aside.
Spaetzle-maker, available at Amazon.com
Some people sautee the cooked nokedli in butter and parsley, but I usually just serve it as is in my Hungarian dish of choice. Try adding it to any of your favorite soups in place of noodles/rice!