Friday, November 13, 2015

Chicken Paprikas

I've had my dad on my mind all day.  He liked to cook (and EAT), and one of his favorite dishes was Chicken Paprika.  He spent so many years hunting for the perfect recipe he had tasted at a church potluck once.

After Mom died, I lived with one of my grown sisters, Betty, for 3 years until Dad remarried.  She and her husband took  care of me all week, but when the weekends came, Dad would pick me up, and off we'd go out to his cottage at "the Lake".  

So on Fridays after school, I'd rush home to pack up for the weekend with Dad.  I was so eager to see him pull in the driveway after work.  We'd always stop at the same family restaurant, Emil's, along the way where I would order a cheeseburger with tomato and mustard and a chocolate milk.  He'd usually order the special of the day.  All the waitresses knew my order and often would gather at my side telling me that I was the only child they knew that wanted mustard instead of ketchup on their burger.  Dad would get a big kick out of all those "girls", as he'd call them, paying such attention to our table.  Yeah, I was a babe magnet for him :).  We mostly went out to the Lake after supper, but a few times we'd go to our home in the city, but not very often.  He never talked about it, but I think he really didn't want to spend much time at "home" anymore without Mom there, an neither did I.

On Fridays, we'd get to the cottage just time to watch "The Everglades".  It wasn't a long-lived TV show, but I liked it.  Later in the evening the Friday Night Fights came on, and there was always popcorn between Dad and me...grape Nehi for me, beer for Dad.  He really enjoyed the fights, ducking and diving punches with a stogie in his mouth, ashes falling in his lap.  Then, I'd entertain him during the commercials doing my best impression of Edie Adams selling cigars in her sexy manner.  I'd throw my fuzzy scarf around my neck and promenade around the living room swishing my hips and brandishing a cigar box.  It always made him laugh, and that just encouraged me all the more.

Back then the cottage was just a cottage and still had an outhouse in the backyard.  Good grief, how I hated to go out there.  In the winter it was a cold trip, but the summer was worse because of the bugs and snakes.  Shivers year round.  But it had a great cobblestone fireplace which welcomed me back.  He'd let me pitch a camp and sleep by the fire at night.  Camp was a large blanket spread across two or three dining chairs, with the opening to the fire.  My pillows were placed just so on the floor with blankets for sleeping, and a book for coloring until I fell asleep.  Such fun.

On Saturdays, Dad would cook for us.  Breakfast was usually toast and cereal, lunch was bean or veggie soup with swiss cheese on the side, and then there was supper.  We'd often go out to eat, but we'd often enjoy some of Dad's cooking.  This brings me back to the Chicken Paprikas ... more commonly called Chicken Paprikash.   I inherited Dad's Hungarian Cookbook he bought at a church social for the recipe for this dish.  I'm sharing it with you guys below:

Veal Paprikas or Chicken (from Elizabeth Gage) (ed. verbatim)

2 c    veal chopped into small pieces
1 lg    onion chopped and sauteed in 2 Tbs shortening
1 tsp  paprika
1 tsp  salt
Wash veal and rinse.  Add onions.  Add pepper to taste.

Bring to boil, turn fire low, cook slowly 1-1/2 hours.  When half done, add 1/2 mango to meat in one piece plus 1/2 tsp Accent if you like.  Add water only if it cooks down too much.  Stir occasionally.  When meat is done, mix in a pint jar 1/2 pint of sour cream with 2 Tbs of flour.  Fill jar with water and mix till smooth.  Add to meat.  Cook till thick gravy is obtained.  Serve with noodle dumplings.  You can substitute chicken for veal or beef.  Omit sour cream if beef.

This is the authentic recipe from Ms. Gage's family recipes.  It was printed in a cookbook entitled Our Favorite Hungarian Recipes.  Compiled by The Women's Guild of the Hungarian E + R Church (United Church of Christ) Columbus7, Ohio

By the old fashioned address and the picture on the cover, I think this was compiled in the late 40s or early 50s, but I have no way of knowing for sure.  This was written in a large paragraph.  I broke it out in a more manageable layout for you.


  1. Your lake house sounds absolutely idyllic. Especially necessary after the loss of your mum....your picture reminded me of my cousin's cottage up on Lake Huron, where we'd spend summers, a huge empty beach all to myself and hours and hours of books to read. How I miss it. Your recipe sounds yummy - it's been a long time since I've seen a recipe with shortening in it!

    1. Hi Allie! In that little book, nearly all the recipes had shortening in them, some mentioned changing it out for lard. That probably would be helpful in dating the book even more.
      Dad really loved this place. Mom died when I was 5, and he remarried when I was 8, so we spent 3 years doing our weekend rituals there. We moved there when I turned 10, and Dad lived out the rest of his life in that little house .... he bought it in the early 40s, and died in 1992....50 years.

  2. Great memories, Karen! Those old cookbooks are treasures! I think this recipe sounds delicious, but I know Joe would never even try it. He won't eat gravies or sauces (except for "red" gravy - tomato sauce).

  3. Dropping in from Latane's blog, captivated by your blog title. What a lovely memory of your Dad and your cooking together.

    Since the book is probably fifty years old, and church-published in the cook's own words, I think that perhaps such a juxtaposition of fruits and vegetables might be that in a lot of regions of the country, a bell pepper is referred to as a "mango," which I'd think more apt to the recipe than the tropical fruit. Putting the pepper in in one piece is what my MIL used to do with her spaghetti sauce, because her two youngest would sit and pick out every tee-ninecy smitch of the bell pepper, complaining all the time. And it was essential to the flavor, so she fished out the several big pieces before serving, so they didn't know.

    Delighted to have found you, and am following.

  4. PS When I get to know you better, I'll tell you of the time that Miss Edie Adams invited me up onto the stage at a convention (me in a mini-skirt!!) to smoke a Muriel with her.


  5. Karen,

    I must thank you for the memory---I posted the Cigar With Miss Edie on LAWN TEA today.


  6. Hi Karen, Starting January 12, 2016 I will be hosting "Tuesday's Treasures." A meme where you can share all things old...old and lovely or old and decide.

    Linkup Tuesdays from 12:30 AM until Thursday at 11:59 PM eastern time. I hope to see you. Tom The Backroads Traveller


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