Lush, complex sauce heats up paprikash

Gretchen McKay
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

I'm the first to admit I was a pretty terrible cook as a newlywed. Granted, I was barely a year out of college with little-to-no actual cooking experience under my 20-something belt, but still. Some of those first few meals I served my new husband were god-awful.

One early marriage dish that sticks out as particularly bad was a Hungarian goulash. Stew is usually one of the best (and easiest to make) comfort foods, but apparently I got it way wrong by making it way too spicy. To this day, my husband still comes to dinner with a look of trepidation any time he sees me reach for a can of paprika.

I think I finally redeemed myself with this wonderfully flavorful chicken paprikash from 177 Milk Street. Made with the dueling yet complementary flavors of both sweet and hot paprika, its velvety, brightly colored sauce is lush and complex without being overly perky. Pureed roasted red peppers add a silky sweetness. The dish is further enriched with the tang of sour cream — stirred in off heat so it doesn't curdle — and seriously, who doesn't love homemade dumplings? Especially when they're so easy to whisk together and cook in about a minute?

Paprikash is usually made using whole chicken thighs, but I cut the meat into strips to make it easier to eat. I served it with a creamy cucumber salad.

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Chicken Paprikash with Homemade Dumplings. (Gretchen McKay/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/TNS)

CHICKEN PAPRIKASH WITH HOMEMADE DUMPLINGS

PG tested

For chicken

  • 1/2 cup drained jarred roasted red peppers
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
  • 4 teaspoons hot paprika, divided
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ripe medium tomato, cored and chopped
  • 1 banana peppers or wax pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into strips
  • 3/4 cup sour cream

For dumplings

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs

Prepare chicken: In a blender, combine the roasted peppers, 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of the hot paprika, the sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Puree, scraping the jar as needed, until smooth, about 30 seconds. Set aside.

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until barely smoking. Stir in the onion, tomato and finely chopped banana pepper. Cover, reduce to medium and cook, stirring often, until the tomato has broken down and the onion is softened and light golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Stir in the sweet paprika, remaining 3 teaspoons hot paprika, broth and half of the pepper puree. Bring to a simmer, then cover, reduce to low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

Add the chicken and stir until well coated. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover, reduce to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the chicken meets no resistance, about 40 minutes. (It will cook faster if you cut the meat into strips.)

While chicken is cooking, prepare dumplings. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and 1 cup water. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture; whisk until the ingredients form a smooth batter. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray.

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt. Holding a small, smooth-surfaced wooden cutting board above the water, ladle about 1 cup batter on the board (reduce the amount of batter if your board is very small). Using an offset spatula or butter knife, quickly scrape small bits of the batter, in narrow, ribbon-like sections, off the board into the boiling water. Return the water to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring once or twice; the dumplings will float to the surface after about 30 seconds, before they are cooked through.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop the dumplings out of the water, let excess water fall back into the pot, then distribute in an even layer on the prepared baking sheet. Cover with foil to keep warm, then cook the remaining batter in the same way.

When chicken is done cooking, take off heat and stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Push the chicken to the side; add the remaining pepper puree and the sour cream to the liquid. Whisk to incorporate, then stir to combine the sauce and chicken. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve with the dumplings and a cucumber salad, if desired.

Serves 4-6.

— Adapted from 177milkstreet.com

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