Paprika is critical to Hungarian cuisine and it adds a very special and unique flavor. Hungary’s climate and soil conditions produce nearly ideal conditions for growing the peppers that end up as paprika, and their paprika is preferred by chefs across the globe.
All paprika is made from hot chilies, and the piquancy level of the finished spice is dependent on how much of the interior pith (which contains almost all the capsaicin, the chemical compound responsible for spicy flavor) is left attached to the fruit of the pepper before drying and grinding. Hungarians love the entire paprika spectrum, from fully hot (all the pith left intact) to “sweet,” or mild (with all pith removed). Hot paprika is difficult to find in the United States, but the sweet variety is a part of nearly everyone’s spice rack.
Paprikash showcases paprika perhaps more than any other Hungarian dish. Pieces of meat (usually chicken but other types of meat can also be used) are braised in a brick-red sauce made simply from onions, tomatoes, and of course paprika, then finished with a bit of sour cream. Here is my version.
1 (1 pound) pasture raised pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Half a large sweet onion, cut into thin wedges
1 garlic clove, minced
1½ tablespoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup bottled mild banana peppers, finely chopped
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons arrowroot or all-purpose flour
Trim fat and silverskin from the meat. Cut meat into thin medallions ( crosswise) and sprinkle lightly with salt; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat and brown the slices on both sides, about 3 minutes. Remove the meat to a plate.
Heat the remaining oil and add the onions. Cook until tender. Stir in the garlic.
Sprinkle with the paprika, black pepper, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook and stir 1 minute more.
Add tomatoes, broth, and banana peppers. Bring to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low. Return the meat slices to the pan and cook, uncovered, about 10-15 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring frequently.
Reduce the heat to low. Stir together the sour cream and arrowroot in a small bowl; stir into the meat mixture. Cook and stir until very thick.
Serve the Paprikash over rice, cauliflower “rice” or wide noodles.
Roasted Acorn Squash
One 2 lb. acorn squash
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Seasoning mix: Combine ¼ teaspoon of each: chili pepper, brown sugar, lemon peel, orange peel, cilantro, and salt
1 garlic clove, minced
Preheat oven to 400° F.
Cut acorn squash into quarters and remove the seeds from the center of each quarter.
Slice each quarter in half and place in a baking dish. Pour the melted butter over the squash and turn the pieces over in the butter.
Sprinkle with the seasoning mix.
Roast the squash until tender, about 25 minutes.