Sunday Night in Budapest

One of the best parts of having a large dinner party circuit is being treated to ethnic meals prepared by friends who come from disparate corners of the globe.

Andras' Hungarian fried chicken

Andras’ Hungarian fried chicken

Dinners that come to mind in recent history include Singapore street food, a Russian Easter feast, a Dominican roast pork pernil, and a dazzling Norwegian multekrem dessert of heavenly cloudberries. We once went to a Chinese friend’s home for Szechuan hot pot — the meal’s centerpiece was a large pile of duck tongues.

Our pal, Andras, who hails from Budapest, Hungary, has cooked for us before — making one of the best darned goulashes ever (and I’ve had my share of goulash!). Out came the paprika again on a recent Saturday night, as he prepared for us a traditional Sunday night Hungarian dinner.

Cuke salad

Cuke salad

I was at the stove, charged with appetizers (Japanese-style fried wild mushrooms and softshell crab candy, not precisely an appropriate prelude to a rustic Hungarian meal) as Andras began his preparations. He approached the chicken with an Eastern European stoicism and workman-like demeanor. Roll in flour, dip in egg, roll in breadcrumb. Repeat.

“How long do you cook it?” he asked at some point, referring to his own chicken. I offered up my neat trick of crisping it up on the outside, and then placing it in 250-degree oven for awhile to ensure it’s cooked through.

Proud papa and his cukes

Proud papa and his cukes

We sat by candlelight out on the deck of our friends, Bob and Shoba’s home, overlooking the twinkling lights of the valley and the elementary school of my youth. I tried to take a video of Andras explaining the Hungarian Sunday dinner tradition. When I went back to watch it later, you could make out the candlelight and hear the clinking of glasses, and that was about it.

The chicken, like all the world’s great fried chicken dishes, was crispy and moist, salty and rich. Served with a cucumber salad and some well-executed mashed potatoes, it was the equal of most of the world’s great comfort foods — albeit with a paprika twist.

I kept Andras’ instructions largely intact, because they amused me and reminded me of him. I’m sure you can figure out any missing parts.

As they say in Hungary, “Egészségédre!”

*    *    *

Sunday night Hungarian fried chicken dinner
serves 8-10

Chicken:
Cut a whole farmers’ market chicken into 10 parts (drums, legs, wings; breast into 4 parts); pay dry
Prepare bowls with flour, eggs (2-3 for a chicken, mix well) and breadcrumbs. I added a good amount of salt to the eggs, and I salted the chicken slightly right before starting the breading process. Then start the breading: flour, eggs, breadcrumbs.
Fry in pan using generous amount of (heat resistant) oil until golden brown.
(Editor’s note: I fry chicken until golden brown, and then set on a rack in a 250-degree oven for 10-15 minutes to ensure thorough and even cooking.)
Cucumber salad:
Use English or Japanese cukes (without the big seeds). You need a large English cuke per 2 people. Peel and slice with a mandolin. Lightly salt, let sit for 30 mins. I would use roughly half the water and pour the rest off. Mix some vinegar (apple, wine, just please no balsamic), sugar and one small grated/pressed small clove of garlic per 2 cukes, and depending on how salty the cukes already are, some additional salt. The dressing should be sweet, sour and garlicky. To decorate, top with sour cream (Tablespoon per cuke), paprika, and pepper rings. In Hungary peppers are white/yellow and thin skinned. I once found them in Denver under the un-PC name “gypsies”; I would say Anaheims come pretty close. No bell peppers!
Mashed potatoes: no real trick here. I could have used even more garlic boiled in milk. I used butter, sour milk, salt, pepper; tiny bit of nutmeg would be good too.
There we go!
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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Nov 06, 2015 @ 16:34:26

    No (green) bell peppers indeed! Not ever. I think I need to find a Hungarian friend to cook me that meal. Now.

    Reply

  2. Cheryl "Cheffie Cooks" Wiser
    Nov 06, 2015 @ 17:47:53

    How fun-Yumified (new word). Have a great weekend! Cheryl

    Reply

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