My maternal grandmother died before I was born. From all accounts, she was a pretty interesting person. She was from a very upper class Hungarian family, studying in the US before WWII when she met my Italian-American grandfather. They got married and she was here in the States when war broke out. After WWII, Hungary fell to the communists in the fifties. Her parents left and came to the US to live. My grandmother never got to go back to her native country. I like to imagine she made meals like this to remind her of a place she hadn’t been for years.
I’m not really sure how much haute cuisine comes out of Eastern Europe, but my mom has made some to-die-for family favorites (mostly sweets) from the Hungarian side of her family. The fried dough (struffla) she makes at Christmas is hands down the awesomest thing EVER to eat for breakfast.
My mom didn’t make a lot of Hungarian dishes when we were growing up, mostly because we liked the food from her Italian heritage better. I doubt I would have eaten this very often as a kid because I didn’t like onions or mushrooms until I was in high school. It’s a thick, hearty stew-like meal that’s really filling, really simple, and really yummy. If you were to make it with red meat, it would be gulays (goulash) (you can’t really just substitute red meat, though. It’s a whole different meal and a who different process). While my husband really likes the red meat version, we’ve eaten more than our usual allotment of red meat this week. The chicken version is a little lighter (at least the way I make it. I’m sure when my grandmother made this, she didn’t use skinless, boneless chicken breasts).
You can buy pre-sliced mushrooms to make your life easier, if you want, and I have. But the whole ones were cheaper so I went with those. When you fill up your pot with the onions and mushrooms, don’t panic. Onions and mushrooms have a lot of liquid in them. They will cook down dramatically.
- 2.5 lbs skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1 in pieces
- 2-3 large sweet onions, halved and sliced into thin half moons
- 3 8 oz pkgs mushrooms (I used cremini, but you could also try button), thinly sliced
- 3-4 tbsp sweet paprika (you can use smoked, but it won’t taste the same)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- egg noodles (cooked to package directions and buttered)
In a large dutch oven, melt a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil over medium low heat. Once butter has melted, add mushrooms to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden.
Add onions and cook until soft and but not brown. You don’t want to caramelize the onions, but you do want them to shrink down. Salt and pepper to taste.
At this point, you might think everything looks gross because it’s coated with grayish brown liquid. Trust me; it tastes so much better than it looks and you haven’t added the pretty stuff yet.
Add chicken to pot, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink. Add wine and paprika. Stir to coat, then cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked through and wine has evaporated (10-15 minutes).
Stir in sour cream and turn off heat.
Serve over hot, buttered egg noodles.