A recent email from an American lady with Slovak roots reminded me of another dish my paternal grandma used to make. She lived in the south of Slovakia, in a small settlement close to the Hungarian border where people still spoke a local Hungarian dialect.
Her cooking, too, was Hungarian-oriented and I remember that a lot of her dishes had paprika in them. She regularly made perkelt with the meat from her home-raised rabbits. When sour cream was added to the sauce, the dish would be called paprikáš (paprikash). Both perkelt and paprikáš were served with halushki.
In the recipe below I replaced rabbit with chicken and used a different technique to cook the meat than most of our recipes do. Instead of simply stewing it, I followed Hank Shaw’s idea and roasted the chicken pieces, as it produces a crispier result. To make halushki, you will need a special tinplate with holes and a hook that fits over a cooking pot. If you have a spaetzle-maker, that is a good replacement for our halushki-maker, only the holes in the latter one are bigger, and so are the halushki.
- 1 whole chicken
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground caraway or cumin
- oil and water for basting
For the halushki:
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup pastry flour
- 10 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the sauce:
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
- 2 tablepoons fine flour
- 250 g sour cream
- 2 tablespoons paprika
- 400 ml water (about 1½ cup)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Rinse the chicken under running water and carve into small pieces. Season with salt, black pepper and ground caraway or cumin. Distribute the chicken pieces around a large enough roasting dish and pour in some oil. Roast in the oven at 220°C for about 20 minutes, then turn over and continue cooking for another 20 minutes, basting with meat juices and water, if needed, to achieve a golden crust.
- Meanwhile, break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk until well-combined. Stir in the flour and add the water, spoon by spoon, until you achieve a loose dough.
- Fill a large pot up to two thirds with water and bring to the boil. Adjust to a simmer and fit a holey tinplate (halushki-maker or a spaetzle-maker) over the pot. Transfer the dough into the tinplate and press through the holes with a wooden spoon or a spatula. As it falls in the water, the dough will form small dumplings – halushki. Stir well and cook until the halushki come up to the surface. Take them out with a slotted spoon and transfer into a clean bowl. Cover and keep warm.
- To make the paprika sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan or a deep-sided pan over a medium heat. Throw in the onion and sauté until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of more minutes, stirring now and then to prevent it from burning. Add the flour and continue cooking for another minute, then take off the heat. Pour in half of the water and stir to combine well. Season with the salt and black pepper. Place over a medium heat again and bring to a simmer, stirring all the time until the mixture thickens. Put aside.
- In a mug, mix together the sour cream, the paprika and the rest of the water. Add to the saucepan, return to the heat and stir until the sauce comes to the boil. Adjust the seasoning, take off the heat and serve hot with the chicken and halushki.