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Chicken Paprikash and “Knuckles”

Today is my birthday.  And tomorrow’s my son’s birthday.    The result is an odd couple of days of happy celebration.   I do love birthdays!

Son and grandgirls are here and have once again requested Hungarian Paprikash for the birthday(s) dinner.  It’s a family tradition.   But this time my husband wants to take us out to eat (what a prince!) and I can’t resist escaping  from the kitchen.  Can you tell I’m feeling guilty?  I may even have nightmares about not living up to expectations!

Still, Chicken Paprikash is a wonderful dish.   My Hungarian Dad taught me how to make it, complete with nokedli  ( mini dumplings).   My little brother and I called them “knuckles” when we were little, because we couldn’t pronounce that word in Hungarian.   We still call the dumplings knuckles.

There is no real recipe for the Paprikash or the knuckles, but I will give it a try to share with you.  Here is my family’s SECRET recipe handed down through the generations!  Oh, the things we reveal for the sake of blogging!

HUNGARIAN CHICKEN PAPRIKASH

Chicken pieces (with skin) – Your choice – 6 to 10 pieces.

2 Onions chopped

Paprika – Unlimited amount

Butter – 2 Sticks

1)       Melt the butter in a big stew pot.  Add onions and sauté until translucent.  Begin adding chicken pieces.  Place the larger pieces (skin side down) on the bottom.  Spoon over a little of the onions. Then add the smaller pieces (skin side down) on top.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

2)      Now reverse the above procedure.  Move the smaller pieces skin side up to the bottom and the larger pieces to the top, skin side up.  Cover and simmer 20 minutes more.  This recipe will make its own gravy.  I have never had to add water.

3)      After the 40 minutes of cooking you can begin spooning paprika by the tablespoon into the gravy.  Keep adding and adding and stirring in more paprika  until the gravy turns tomato orange.  The gravy should look like it was made with tomatoes – a fairly bright orange.  Simmer 10 or 15 minutes more.

You’re done!  Do NOT add salt or pepper.  Salt will toughen the meat.  Guests can add salt at the table.

Note:  If you are feeding a mob, you will obviously need to add more chicken, more onions, more butter and more paprika.  This recipe is based on 6 to 10 pieces of chicken which will feed up to six people.

Suggestion:  Serve Paprikash with Sour Cream on the Side!  Many recipes include sour cream in the cooking process but my family prefers  to add it at the table or not to have sour cream at all.

HUNGARIAN NOKEDLI (“Knuckles” to Go with the Paprikash)

I never had a set recipe for making these “dumplings” although I’m sure you can find one on the internet.  This was the way I learned to make them as a child at my father’s side.  Knuckles are the best part of the Paprikash feast and I can never make enough of them.

Start with:  4 Cups of All Purpose Flour

2 Eggs

Milk  (Undetermined amount but quite a lot)

Salt and Pepper

1)      Bring a big stew pot of salted water to a boil and keep it at a bubbling simmer.

2)      In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add some flour and a little salt and pepper.  Add milk and begin stirring.  There is no definite amount of milk.  Just pour in about half a cup and start (I use a table fork to do the stirring).  If the mixture is dry, add  more milk.   If the mixture is too wet, add more flour.   Keep adding and stirring and adding and stirring.  Strive for a stiff dough that acts sticky and stringy like taffy.   You can always add more flour or more milk until you reach the right consistency.

3)      Now take a Tablespoon of the dough.  Begin “slicing” bits off the end of the spoon with a butter knife into the simmering water.  Keep dipping the knife into the water to make it easier to “slice” the dough.  The water should stay at a slightly boiling simmer.   Take another tablespoon and repeat slicing until the dough is used up.  Each “knuckle” is about an inch long and half an inch thick when cooked (thumb tip size).   If they look too small or too large, just adjust the size of your dough slices from the end of the spoon.

4)      When all the dough is used up, you’re done.   Let the water simmer another few minutes so the last ones get cooked.    Add the cooked knuckles to the gravy in your Paprikash pot.

Good luck with making the knuckles!  It’s easier than it looks, but really hard to explain.  You can also cheat and use boxed egg noodles or shells instead.  That’s what I did as a young bride.  Packaged noodles are never the same, but still pretty darned good.

Enjoy!

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I have no idea where the recipe originated.  I do know it always earns an oooh and aaah reception as a winter-weather side dish and adds just the right zip to almost any entrée.

Are you looking for another Easy-Breezy-1-2-3 Recipe  with a minimum of ingredients that make friends think you are a gourmet cook?

Try this one and enjoy the notoriety!

Dor’s Rave Review Red Cabbage

1 lb. red cabbage (a head) cut into 1” slices

1 medium onion sliced thin

¾ c dark raisins

1 c sweet cider

3 Tbs cider vinegar

¾ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

½ tsp canola oil

In a stainless steel saucepan combine all of the ingredients listed.  Reduce heat to medium.  Simmer 45 minutes.  Most of the liquid should evaporate but cabbage should be moist.  Cook longer if there is excess moisture in bottom of pan.  The small amount of liquid remaining should be carmelized and brown and the cabbage, crunchy.

Serves 4-6

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Ready to Eat “Go Away Stew”

Make this stew and you can go away for 5 hours and come home to tantalizing aromas from the kitchen and happy people around the dining room table.

Once assembled, you can go away.  That’s why I named it The Go Away Stew.  Brilliant huh?

In addition, Go Away Stew is a stew that’s different.

Yes, it’s a stew that’s different.

I am trying to explain this is a stew that’s different but for once, words fail me.  You will just have to try it.  You’ll like it.

GO AWAY STEW – A HOME PLACE COUNTRY RECIPE

Getting Ready

Spray roasting pan with a coating of oil to prevent sticking (not absolutely necessary).

Have available the following ingredients:

2 ½ pounds of stew meat

2 Cups peeled chunked potatoes

2 Cups chopped carrots

2 Cups chopped celery

2 Cups chopped onions

Parsley + 2 tsp salt + pepper + 1 tsp sugar

4 Cups V-8 juice (32 ounces)

5 TBs Tapioca

Now layer all the above ingredients.

Add V8 Last Step

Cover tightly with foil.

Bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 hours.  And go away!

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It’s no secret that I dislike cooking.  I can fool some of the people some of the time however – especially if I have a recipe that has been tested and deemed superb.

If a recipe is a) above all, EASY, and b) consistently delicious and c) generates rave reviews, it makes it to my Gold Star Book.   Now here’s one with two stars!  I  personally intensely dislike meat loaf.  I have disliked it all my long life, that is until a country woman shared her intensely delicious, savory version. I am now a convert and no other recipe will ever suffice.

BARBECUED MEAT LOAF EXTRAORDINAIRE

A HOME PLACE COUNTRY RECIPE

1 ½ pounds ground beef

1 cup bread crumbs

1 onion, finely chopped

1 egg, beaten

1 ½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce, divided

½ cup water

3 tablespoons vinegar

3 tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

Combine the first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl; add ½ can tomato sauce, mixing well.  Place mixture in a 10-x6-x2-inch baking dish, and shape into a loaf.  Combine remaining tomato sauce and remaining ingredients in a small mixing bowl, and pour over loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 15 minutes or until done, basting often.  Yield: 8 servings.

Sometimes I add a few drops of hot sauce to the sauce for extra zip.

O.K., I know you have your own favorite version of meat loaf and it’s undoubtedly grand, but do try this recipe too.  And let me know what you think.  If you are as hooked as I am, I ask only one thing (well, two things) – name it Dor’s Meatloaf Extraordinaire and give it a gold star!

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A HOMEPLACE RECIPE

I love country music, country dancing, and country food.  And usually, I don’t care what country any of it comes from – just so it’s country.  In this case, Austria is the “homeplace” of my husband’s ancestors, and I make one of his favorite dishes right here in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.

It’s a staple meal in our house.   We call it Ham and Noodles because we can not pronounce the real name – Schinkenfleckerl.  The recipe has been passed down from my Austrian mother-in-law, Emily.

It’s what I call “peasant food” – hearty, inexpensive, goes a long way to feed many, and (as are all my favorite recipes) easy to prepare.  I always make it with leftover ham and the amounts are entirely subjective.

Ingredients:

Leftover Cooked Ham (grind it up in a meat grinder)   Quantity?  The equivalent of a 1 lb. ham steak – or in lay terms – a big chunk or a lot of big chunks of leftover ham. (I know this is vague but nothing can go wrong with this recipe)

An Onion (grind it up with the ham in the meat grinder) – Quantity?  One onion to a pound of ham (or more onions if you are feeding a mob)

Butter  (A lot) – One to two sticks. (Start with one)

Noodles  – A Whole Box  (2 or more boxes if you are feeding a mob)  Note: You can use flat noodles, or curly noodles, or I like to use shells (the big ones) because the little hollow places collect  bits of ham.

  • Fry the ham and the onion together with the butter.
  • Add butter if you need to so ham doesn’t dry out.
  • Cook until ham turns golden brown.  Keep it on “Warm.”
  • Boil the noodles.
  • Combine all.

Believe it or not, that’s it!  And I can almost guarantee you will love it.

Serve with a big salad and you’ve got a great meal.

There are many other versions of this delightful dish if you want to get a bit more complicated with ingredients, but this is the way I learned to make it from my sister-in-law, who learned it in her mother’s kitchen.  And I have never met a person who disliked Schinkenfleckerl!

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