Even though I was a sweet-toothed kid who could eat through a pound of chocolate in no time, my Hungarian grandmother always made sure my brother and I ate our dinner before indulging in dessert. "Meat is strength" she'd always say. After I moved out, my Mom always made sure to ask if I was eating enough meat. She doesn't have to worry--I love meat. One thing Hungarians love more than their meat is the Paprika they use to flavor it.
Below is a recipe that can be used with chicken and adapted to beef to make the well-known Gulyás stew. Csírke Paprikás (Chicken in Paprika Sauce) 2 tbsp vegetable oil 2 lbs chicken parts (bone-in) 2 onions, finely diced 3-4 tbsp sweet Hungarian paprika (more if desired) 1 Roma tomato, roughly chopped 2 slices green pepper 2 tsp hot Hungarian paprika 2-3 cups water 2 tbsp flour 1 cup sour cream Salt to taste In a Dutch oven or good stew pot, sweat the onions over medium heat until translucent. Add the chicken and cook for a few minutes until it begins to brown.
Add the paprika and mix well. The mixture should be a nice, deep red. Add the tomato and green pepper slices, then the water to cover the chicken. Add about a teaspoon of salt and let the chicken simmer for about 25 minutes. Combine the sour cream and flour, mixing well. Add a ladle full of the paprika sauce and mix well.
Add the mixture to the pot and simmer until slightly thickened. Gulyás Stew Substitute 2 lbs of stewing meat cut into cubes for the chicken in the above recipe. Simmer over low heat for about 1 hour, or until tender.
Thicken with the sour cream and flour mixture. You can serve these dishes with egg noodles, Spätzle, or Csipetke (hand cut dumplings)--use the same dough as for the Spätzle, but cut into a pot of boiling water using a knife and cutting board.) My grandma was great at this--I'm not, so I do Spätzle using a cutter or metal colander.
Spätzle (Miniature Dumplings) 3 cups flour 2 eggs 1 tsp salt 1 cup milk 1 tbsp vegetable oil Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Using the dough attachment on a hand mixer or stand mixer, mix the flour, salt, eggs, and half the milk. As you mix, add the rest of the liquid until a soft dough forms. Using a Spätzle maker or a metal colander and spatula, drop the dumplings into the water. When they float, scoop them out with a slotted spoon and drain. Serve with goulash or chicken paprika.
You can also bake the dumplings German style, layered with Emmenthaler cheese and fried onions. Hungarians love their fresh vegetables and many families grow their own in the gardens. Every household has a variation of the following salad--some use yogurt, others insist on vinegar, some make it sweet, others savory. The options are endless, but this one is my favorite: Hungarian Cucumber Salad 2 long English cucumbers Salt 1.
5 cups yogurt 2-3 cloves garlic 1 tsp wine vinegar Salt and pepper to taste A sprig of parsley to garnish Peel the cucumbers and slice finely using a mandolin. Sprinkle with salt and let them stand for five minutes. Press the garlic cloves into the yogurt and mix well.
Rinse the cucumbers lightly and wring out thoroughly. Stir in the garlic yogurt mixture and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a serving dish and garnish with parsley.
By: Ilonka Oszvald