It’s winter and since two weeks we have survived some snowstorms, the temperature is below-12 (during the night -25) so we need some extra fat in order to protect our body from the coldness. One day I decided it was high time to cook the famous Hungarian “Paprikás krumpli” a paprika-based potato stew. It contains exactly everything what I need in order to regain my energy: diced potatoes, onion, tomato, bell peppers, ground paprika and sliced spicy sausage, such as the Debrecener.
A very short history of the papricache
The history of the papricache is inseparable from the story of the goulash and stew’s, not only because they were born at the same place and at the same periods of time but also because originally all the three dishes were simple and delicious every day food of the shepherds of the Great Hungarian Plain. Altough both the goulash and the stew had a predecessor, dishes flavored with paprika could only be born when the paprika powder became prevalent in the Hungarian kitchen. And that was exactly in 1786 when a recipe of the Chicken papricache appeared in a Hungarian cook book. However the author drew our attention to that in that time Hungarians regarded the dishes flavoured with paprika as the poor peasant’s food (Paprikás krumpli is a proverbial, traditional, tasty poor man’s dish in Hungary). Thus cooking with paprika was a symbol of the unspoiled, taintless Hungarian way of cooking in cauldron.
The Hungarian drug
But during 150 years paprika powder has become the king of the spices the Hungarian “drug” since the Hungarians put in almost every dishes. Before cooking with it the housewives just sniff and taste the delicious sweet, noble paprika powder and then they add with a great pleasure to the Goulash soup, the stew, the Chicken papricache, the Gipsy papricache and…the Fishmonger soup and the list is not yet complet…
But only the stew, Goulash and papricache’s “triumvirate” belongs to our great traditional national dishes. In the middle of the 19th century the German speaking countries took over the Hungarian paprika’s recipes but they immediately added sour cream or cream in order to lighten the hotness of the Hungarian chilli paprika’s. The French originated, older Joseph Marchal (1832-1914), who was the chef of the French emperor Napoleon III, Franz Joseph I, soon became addicted to the Hungarian papricache dishes. Maybe thanks to him it is a popular fallacy that the papricache is a version of the sour creamed flavoured stew but it is wrong because papricache means it is cooked however the stew is roasted in its fat. Of course sour cream can be added to for instance stew, fishmonger soup but it will change the taste.
The recipe of the Potato papricache
3 tbsp oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. paprika powder sweet or hot
4-6 med. potatoes, diced
1/8 tsp. salt, fresh, chopped parsley, sausage
Clean potatoes and dice. Heat oil in saucepan; then add onion. Cook onion until soft and golden brown; then add potatoes and flavor with salt. Toss Hungarian paprika powder. Pour water over potatoes and simmer covered, until nearly tender. Add few drops of water from time to time in order to keep potatoes from sticking to pan. Do not stir. Finally add sausages and chopped parsley when potatoes are done; stir very gently (do not break potato pieces). Shake saucepan to keep potatoes from sticking while warming about 1 minute on very low flame. Serve hot with pickles. It is a hit!
The German speaking countries took over our “potato goulash” (Kartoffel gulasch) as well because they liked to substitute the meat with the less-expensive sausage.