When I was little, one of the first things I learned to cook was Hungarian chicken.
The recipe we had came from the New York Times. My father was many things, most of them bad, but he was most assuredly not a cook. He had a few staple recipes we enjoyed now and then, though, and this was one of them. I don’t remember how we first cooked it, but the stained and crinkled cutout of the recipe that came with the Sunday edition of the Times’ magazine lived in our kitchen drawer and we pulled it out every six months.
Cooking, like many other activities with my dad, wasn’t particularly fun. He got mad a lot. Sometimes he threw things. He shoved me into the stove once and it hurt a lot, giving me mild burns on my hands. Another time he flew into a blind rage, veins bulging from his face, as he screamed and screamed about proper cooking temperatures. I am tall for a woman at 5’10”, but he was tall for a man at 6’3″. He was just tall enough to make me feel small and I will always remember the time the chicken came out completely wrong after hours in the oven. I was thirteen and he ruined our whole weekend in a slow-burning rage as a response–a weekend I still remember vividly that I spent upstairs playing Counter-Strike avoiding him as the overwhelming smell of paprika permeated the entire house. After the initial mess up, he shoved the pan in my face, sloshing the scalding sauce on both of us.
“Do you know how to do anything besides play video games?” He screamed up the stairs as I retreated. “It’s fucking ruined.”
Anyway, I hadn’t had Hungarian chicken since I left him my freshman year of high school. That was over a decade ago. Now that I’m into cooking, I found I genuinely missed it. My mom and therapist both brought up cooking it at some point–however, since I have PTSD, I was a little worried about the smell possibly triggering something. But sometimes you just know when it’s time and it was time to reclaim my favorite recipe. You can’t put off things you love doing forever out of fear. You can’t let bad memories trump making good ones.
About a month ago, in the midst of my worst tooth pain, I made Hungarian chicken after looking up several recipes and turned it into a soup by letting it overcook.
It was pretty good.
I’ve made it a few times since then and I just made it today. I have about five hours left since I’m using the slow cooker–something thirteen-year-old me really could have used to prevent that whole incident–and I figured I would share the recipe.
8 Chicken Thighs
2 teaspoons Hungarian Sweet Paprika
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion chopped
1/3 cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
1) Salt and pepper the chicken
1.5) OPTIONAL: sear the chicken thighs and onions with some butter beforehand. I skip this sometimes, it doesn’t change it much, but if you like crispier texture do it!
2) Mix the broth, flour, and pan grease with paprika in the slow cooker
3) Add in the chicken/onions, stir it all around
4) Cook on low for six hours
After this, you can add 1 cup of sour cream in and mix it around for a creamier sauce or you can serve it as is. Also it’s a recipe that tastes MUCH better a day later in the fridge, so I suggest cooking it a day in advance if you want the best flavor.