The chicken stew is one of the most famous Hungarian dishes. It is a staple in most Hungarian households though the ingredients vary in different regions. The secret to this indulging meal is the base, the gravy and the meat which is up to your liking; you can use chicken, beef, veal or even wild-boar.
It is believed that people cooked stew-like dishes even before the time of the Hungarian conquest. But that was the rudimentary stage of the Hungarian cuisine. What we call chicken stew today, was first written about in the 18th century. Since then, it has been connected with ground paprika but it has much more to it!
This is how you can make this traditional meal:
For the stew:
- 1 kg chicken (use chicken thighs and breast or you could even use a whole chicken)
- 2-3 onions
- 1-2 tomatoes
- 1 green pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons of ground paprika
- 2 tablespoons of fat or oil (traditionally it is made with mangalica fat)
- salt, pepper
For the noodles:
- 0,5 kg flour
- 3 eggs
- 2 dl-s of water (or as much as it takes up)
First, you need to chop up the onions, the garlic, the tomatoes and the green pepper. Then, add your fat or oil to the pan you’re using and start braising the onion and the garlic. It’s important to roast it well so that it starts to develop a light brown colour. (The world stew – ‘pörkölt’ – also means roasted in Hungarian.) Take it off the heat and add stir in the ground paprika. Add some water to it so that it won’t burn. Put it back on the heat and add in the diced tomatoes and green pepper. Cook for a few minutes, and then add the chicken which you have cut up into smaller cubes (except the drumrolls; munching on them is the best and kids love them). Season with salt and pepper and cook until the meat softens. It will take about 45-60 minutes. Stir it sometimes and check on it. If the water cooks away, add some more so that your meal doesn’t burn. What you are looking for is semi-thick gravy and crispy meat. If you reach that point, you are ready with your stew!
For the noodles, fill up a big saucepan with water and put in on high heat. In the meantime, mix your eggs with a pinch of salt. To reach the perfect consistency of the noodles, start adding the flour and water slowly by turns. You want a thick but smooth batter. When your water has come to a boil, start tearing in the noodles (we use a handy-dandy tool with wholes, which we call ‘noodle tearer’). They cook quickly and come up to the surface when ready. A piece of advice: add some oil to the noodles in a bowl so that they don’t stick together.
Serve the chicken stew with the noodles. This is the most common way of eating the stew but we also fancy eating it with bread. Dunking the bread into the gravy is very satisfying.
Enjoy your meal!
Written by Alexandra Béni
Photo: Tamas Balogh