Pörkölt is a comforting Hungarian stew with a paprika tomato base. This stew is sometimes confused with another famous dish from Hungary, Paprikás. The biggest difference between the two is the lack of sour cream in Pörkölt. It also generally uses boneless, diced meat. I am sharing Csirkepörkölt today with chicken, but other meats are also popular (Marha/Beef, Sertés/Pork, Borju/Veal, Pacal/Tripe). Bite-sized pieces of chicken are simmered over an hour with onions, bell peppers, and tomatoes. The stew is served with Hungarian dumplings (Nokledi) or pasta to help soak up the paprika-rich sauce.
To simmer the meat and vegetables, I added 1/2 cup water. This was enough for me, but add 1/4 cup more water if you find that the sauce is becoming too dry.
This recipe includes a red bell pepper, but I have also seen a few with a green bell pepper. I used Hungarian sweet paprika (available in the international sections of many larger grocery stores or on Amazon), but you can also substitute some of the quantity with hot paprika to add a bit more heat. Be sure to remove the pot from heat before mixing in the paprika. This will help keep it from burning and becoming bitter.
I served the Csirkepörkölt with Nokedli (little Hungarian dumplings similar to the German Spätzle). I have a recipe for Tojásos Nokedli here. Just skip the scrambled eggs step. If you don’t have the time to make the dumplings, tészta (pasta) is also popular- I have seen fusilli used a lot.
Csirkepörkölt (Hungarian Chicken Stew)
Adapted from Palachinka
2 tablespoons pork fat or crisco
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 1/4 pounds (600 grams) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 large tomato, peeled, seeds removed, and chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup water
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
In a deep pan, heat the pork fat over medium heat. Once heated, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened. Stir in the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Remove the pot from heat and stir in the paprika. Add the chicken pieces and return the pot to medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the edges of the chicken are browned. Mix in the tomato, bell pepper, and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt. Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for an hour, until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Season with additional salt if needed.
Serve hot with Nokedli or pasta.