Fr. Z’s Kitchen: Paprikás Csirke

In honor of my desire to study Hungarian, I came down with a serious craving for Hungarian food.  When I travel, I always look to see if there is a Hungarian restaurant.  There aren’t many, alas.  A proof of the effects of Original Sin and the attacks of the Devil and probably also Traditionis custodes… in advance.  Pretty soon most of our problems will be traceable to that abhorrent, heartless document.

I flipped a coin to determine between the famous Gulyás (Gulash, pronounced Goo-yash)
or its famous rival Paprikás Csirke (pronounced Paprikash Cheer-ke).

The mise en place.  Do not be alarmed at the amount of paprika in the little bowl in front.  I didn’t use nearly that amount.   I used about five times that amount.   I didn’t have any pork lard, but I had some salt pork.

I determined to make only two pieces, which, seeing how well it turned out was a really stupid decision.

First, brown the chicken.  I used thighs.  Some pork bits took a ride

Onions in the fat that was rendered… I left the bits of pork in.

Too bad we don’t have “smellovision” yet.

The peppers and tomatoes and garlic go in.

Speaking of garlic… big Fr. Z kudos and thanks go to a reader here, CS.

I have sometimes complained about the “weak ass” garlic we have in these USA.  A reader grows garlic and sent me some!  I now experience true garlicky joy.  What a difference it makes for your, say, Spaghetti aglio olio pepperoncino.  Speaking of which, I know a place in Rome where you can have that for dessert.  And it is worth it.

Back to the chicken…. in it goes with all the paprika and broth.

About half way through I decided to add a small bouquet garni of savory herbs I am growing.

Meanwhile, a refreshing beverage .  One of the six components was an item from my wishlist (it isn’t presently on the list because I have a pretty good amount right now… but it’ll be back).  Thank you to the readers who sent it!  (No, not the Crodino.)

Extract the chicken in order to thicken.

To thicken, not only will I reduce, but I use a kind of fake roux of flour and sourcream.

Mixed really well, the sourcream keeps the flour from getting lumpy.

Paprikás Csirke wouldn’t be Paprikás Csirke without Nokedli, pretty much like Spätzle.  Here are mine.  Alas, they were a touch over done.

The sauce thickens.

Chicken Paprikash.

I would like to have had a Hungarian red, or at least something from the, say, Burgenland.  However, I did have a red Rhine – an unusual thing to see – which was very much like to some of the Hungarians I’ve had, very fruit forward and easy tannins.

I haven’t been cooking anything interesting for a while now.  Sandwiches.  Bowls of cereal.  Salads.  Yawn.

This really hit the spot.  I’ll make the Gulyás or maybe Pörkölt soon.

And thus I also fulfill the recent request from a reader to make something using a dutch oven.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Fr. Z KUDOS, Fr. Z's Kitchen and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. acardnal says:

    Nice seeing you in the kitchen cooking again!

  2. Gab says:

    Well done, Father. My Hungarian mother, God rest her soul, would approve! The nokedli looks really good too.

  3. I think you are now an honorary Magyar.

  4. Jim Dorchak says:

    Man I love this meal. I will have to give it a try. I really enjoy your cooking posts. I often wonder if you have tried any Chilean Wines and what you think of them?

    I will be cooking for about 50 people here one day in the coming month. Southern (Deep South in Chile) Style Smoked Pork with a home made ginger onion BBQ sauce. Followed by beef Short Ribs with a honey green pepper with red pepper flake and onion sauce, followed by grilled Chicken with the same sauce only a little more picante, and finally rotisserie Lamb over a wood fire. Every piece of meat was raised on our little farm. The Lamb I serve with a picante sweet sour black berry and mint balsamic with Chilean wine garlic sauce. Lots of sides and beverages of all sorts.
    We enjoy catering here in Chile and cooking on our big grill. Lots of fun with good food and good friends. Wish you could come. Jim in Chile.

  5. Magdalen Ross says: honorary Magyar

    Which I will accept when I am confident I am pronouncing that “g” properly (Magyar.. vagyok), like that darn phoneme in Sicilian “tr”, or “dd” for that matter.

  6. Jim Dorchak says: Chilean Wines

    I have rarely brought in SA wines and I now studiously avoid everything from Argentina. However, Chilean… if I remember, the varietal Carménère was essentially resurrected from Chilean vines after phylloxera did its thing in Europe. Once thought extinct, it is back. I used to get it regularly, when it was just coming back into N America. It was a little rough, but quite affordable. It was once a foundation of the classical French Bordeaux blend, btw, though there were no fixed percentages.

    I suspect that a Chilean Carménère would go well with Gulyás or Pörkölt.

  7. Grabski says:

    Many Bourdeaux wines were “repatriated” to France from Chile. (Chile had a number of French Basque immigrants).

    For decades Chilean Carmenere was mislabeled as Merlot

  8. pjm88 says:

    Father do you avoid Argentinian wine and all other such things, because of the World’s Most Famous Argentinian™, or for an inherent reason?

  9. prayfatima says:

    Thanks for these cooking posts, they are a joy to read. I don’t know if you really used five times that amount of paprika, but it made me laugh. And when “smellovision” becomes a reality, I would like one in every room and would stream scents from all different parts of the world!

  10. adriennep says:

    Seriously, you need to publish all your cooking adventures into a cookbook as a fundraiser for the Latin Mass Society of your choosing. It would only need a few editing details. This one belongs in Top Ten along with the ode to anchovy extract.

  11. APX says:

    Oh my! I can taste and smell this in my head. This is Hungarian comfort food.

    I make this stuff all the time (except I make it the way my grandma makes it. They lived several hours from us and we’d get there late. There was always a large pot of cabbage rolls, chicken paprikash, mashed potatoes, and peas being kept warm in the oven, and prune buns and Hungarian cucumber salad in the fridge waiting for us when arrived.). My grandma used whipping cream, but I use 3% milk instead unless I have whipping cream I need to use up.

  12. APX says:

    I forgot to add. The secret to making this taste amazing is using the right paprika. Not all paprika is the same. (I get frustrated when recipes just say “paprika”. I have at least five different types of paprika.) Use high quality sweet Hungarian paprika. We use Pride of Szeged paprika. It’s available in different varieties. Don’t use hot paprika. The cans look similar and sometimes will be stocked incorrectly at the store. Grr! >:<

  13. Andrew says:

    Caution: Paprika must not be overheated in oil: it will loose its red color, turn brown and taste bitter.

  14. grateful says:

    Well, we now know what the angels in heaven are cooking for dinner tonight.

  15. Kathleen10 says:

    Great cooking class Fr. Z. I really enjoy these posts! No matter what’s going on in the world, we gotta eat and we may as well eat good things. This is what is so great about having say, European variety, all the different nations making their own cuisine, which we can appreciate and try to make ourselves. Why is this beautiful diversity never valued! As an American, I love it. I also enjoyed everybody’s comments.

  16. APX says:

    Caution: Paprika must not be overheated in oil: it will loose its red color, turn brown and taste bitter.

    IOW: it burns.

  17. anotherphilothea says:

    Thank you for the inspiration Father Z! Our family is totally unfamiliar with Hungarian food but I suspected they would like this, so I made a huge batch tonight and even the picky ones liked it. I admit I wasn’t up to making spaetzle (cleaning out that apparatus afterwards is kind of penitential) but egg noodles were an acceptable stand in. We’ll be making this again!

  18. APX says:

    I admit I wasn’t up to making spaetzle (cleaning out that apparatus afterwards is kind of penitential) but egg noodles were an acceptable stand in.

    I usually make it with egg noodles too.

    You can make spaetzle without an apparatus. It takes a bit of practice to get the technique down, but you can use a plate and a knife. Put the dough on the plate, and dip the knife in the boiling water, and then use the knife to fling a small amount of dough into the boiling water, dipping the knife in the water when the dough starts sticking to it again.

  19. Mariana2 says:

    Never had anything Hungarian. And I thought Magyar was pronounced maw-yawr (short aws).

  20. Adam says:


    I’ve been trying to convince my dad to get his Hungarian passport (so I can get one, too — his grandparents were from Hungary), but no luck yet!

  21. teomatteo says:

    Diversity: a Hungarian delight
    Equity: peppers and onions
    Inclusion: sharing with your readership
    Thank you.

  22. roma247 says:

    Anyone interested in Hungarian cuisine, I would recommend tracking down a copy of this cookbook if you can. Best. Cookbook. Ever. Tons of great, authentic recipes, plus some very interesting notes from its author, a Hungarian refugee…

    Flavors of Hungary by Charlotte Biro.

  23. Semper Gumby says:

    This looks good.

    Overseas a Hungarian officer joined us for several weeks, he carried small packets of both sweet and hot paprika, and had interesting anecdotes about the Hungarian desert explorer Count Almasy.

    “Waiter, there is so much pepper on my paprikash.”

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