My Favorite Birthday Meal: Chicken Paprikas

Nothing says nostalgia like your birthday. Each year, my mom would make my brother, sister and me our favorite meals for our respective birthday dinners. I'd get super pissed when it was my sister's -- Pork Chops and Apple Sauce (though I love it now) -- and semi-excited when it was my brother's -- Spaghetti Carbonara.

Obviously, my D.O.C. (dinner of choice) was the best: Chicken Paprikas; a creamy, smokey Hungarian chicken stew that my mom started making when we lived in Budapest for a couple of years (so this is legit, you guys). We serve it with homemade spaetzle, and it's perfect every time.

Here's how to make it:

Ingredients For the chicken:

  • 1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces or 2-2½ lbs chicken thighs
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • Canola Oil
  • Hungarian Sweet Paprika
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Water
  • Sour Cream
  • Optional: parsley for serving and hot paprika or cayenne for added spice and color

    For the dumplings:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Water, as needed


    Season the chicken generously with salt, pepper, and lots and lots of sweet paprika.

    Heat a large, deep sauté pan or dutch oven over medium-high heat and coat with 1 tbsp butter and oil.

    Add chicken pieces, being careful not to crowd, and cook until browned on each side, about 5 minutes per side. Add the rest of the butter and continue cooking until all pieces are browned. Remove those babies and set aside.

    Add in chopped onions and cook until soft and golden, about 10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits as they cook. Sprinkle with more paprika, about 2 tbsp, and season with salt. Add chicken pieces back in and pour in just enough water to cover the pieces. For added kick, sprinkle in some hot paprika or cayenne pepper.

    Reduce heat to low and simmer until chicken is tender and cooked through and broth is flavorful. Taste and season as needed.

    Remove chicken and mix in about 1 cup sour cream, or enough to make a thick creamy stew that you want to just drink by the spoonful.

    Remove skins from chicken pieces and either shred meat and return to pot or serve the pieces whole.

    Meanwhile, make the spaetzle by combining eggs, flour, milk and salt until dough is smooth and slightly thick. Thin out with water if needed.

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Pour half the mixture onto a cutting board and use a knife to push small, thin strips of dough into pot. Also, don't burn your hand like I did.

    When dumplings are cooked, they will rise to the top. Remove with strainer and repeat until dough is finished.

    Top the dumplings with the creamy chicken paprikas and freshly chopped parsley.

    Then eat it all because it's freaking delicious.

    Of course, a nice big slice of chocolate cake to end the meal doesn't hurt. What is your favorite birthday dinner?

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