This scene from When Harry Met Sally always makes me smile. It also gets stuck in my head at the weirdest moments, and the word paprikash goes round and round in my brain until something else equally as annoying gets lodged in there.
The thing about that movie that strikes me today, in particular, is Sally’s need for control in her life. She likes everything to be “just so.” It’s what makes scenes like the one above (and the infamous diner scene) so noteworthy. Sally steps out of her buttoned-up facade for a moment and does something so unexpected, so out of character, that we’re pleasantly surprised.
Life is like that – we go along blissfully thinking we are in control of our day (or our destiny). Then, something comes along to remind us that really, no, we are, indeed, not in control. As much as we plan, schedule and organize, inevitably we discover that we don’t live in a vacuum or a bubble and forces beyond our control can throw our carefully laid plans into chaos.
I’m learning to roll with it. Like Sally Albright, I often find myself outside my neatly planned comfort zone. Sometimes it’s because I push myself, but most of the time it’s because someone else has pushed me there (either deliberately, or by accident). It’s nerve-wracking. But, it can also be a catalyst for growth.
The fact that I haven’t posted a recipe here since February is testament to my inability to control everything. Happily, this recipe for Chicken Paprikash lends itself to a chaotic lifestyle. It uses ingredients you probably have in your kitchen and pantry, and it can either be done on the stovetop and in the oven on a lazy Sunday afternoon, or in the crockpot on a busy weekday. And the result is something deeply satisfying. And not too peppery. Because no-one wants too much pepper on their paprikash.
Chicken Paprikash | prep time: 3 minutes | cook time: 2 hours (for stovetop/oven version; 4-6 hours if cooking in crockpot on low). | yields: 6 servings
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, seasoned with salt and black pepper
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. black pepper
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 lb. egg noodles, prepared according to package instructions
- Preheat oven to 300F
- Heat olive oil in an oven-safe saute pan on the stove top
- Place seasoned chicken thighs in a single layer in the saute pan, browning on both sides. You may have to work in batches in order to avoid over-crowding the pan. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Place sliced onions in the saute pan and reduce heat slightly. Cook onions until softened and translucent in color, about 10 minutes.
- Add garlic and paprika and stir through.
- Add chicken broth and whisk to pick up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add chicken back to the pan along with the bay leaf
- Cover pan and place in preheated oven. Allow to braise for one and half hours.
- Prepare egg noodles according to package directions
- Remove the saute pan from the oven and place back on the stove top
- Remove chicken from pan and set aside
- Turn on burner under saute pan and allow to come to a boil. Boil until sauce thickens and reduces by half.
- Remove sauce from heat and add 1 cup sour cream, whisking to combine.
- Add chicken back to pan.
- Serve chicken with sauce over prepared egg noodles.
To prepare in crock pot – follow cooking instructions up to step 6, then put all ingredients, including chicken and bay leaf, into crock pot and set for 4-6 hours. Then pick back up with steps 11-16.