Chicken paprikash, a classic Hungarian dish, gets its deep red color and smoky, intense flavor from paprika, a type of dried, crushed chili pepper powder. Sour cream tempers the paprika's heat, creating a smooth and velvety sauce. Sour cream isn't the only product suitable for this tasty dish, though. Other thick dairy products stand in remarkably well.
A traditional version of chicken paprikash calls for chicken pieces -- typically dark meat -- that have been browned in oil or butter along with onions. The pieces are cooked in a savory sauce of paprika, chopped tomatoes and chicken broth. Sour cream, which can curdle if cooked at high temperatures, is added only at the end to thicken the sauce and add a tangy flavor. Chicken paprikash can be served alone or with noodles or dumplings.
Sour cream is made by fermenting heavy cream with a lactic acid bacteria. Depending on the brand and type of sour cream you buy, sour cream has about 30 calories per tablespoon and 3 grams fat. If you don't have sour cream on hand or want something with fewer calories or less fat, try blending equal parts low-fat cottage cheese and low fat yogurt in the blender. Add a little lemon juice for added tang. Another option is to use Greek yogurt, which has a consistency and flavor that is similar to sour cream.
Most chicken paprikash recipes call for between 1/2 and 3/4 cup of sour cream, depending on your taste preference and the size of the dish. Substitute an equal amount of the cottage cheese blend or Greek yogurt. These dairy products can also curdle when heated, so add them at the end of cooking.
Greek yogurt varies in its calorie and fat content, depending on the brand and ingredients. Read the label if this is a concern. Use plain yogurt, rather than sweetened or fruit types. If the yogurt is watery, stir the water back into the yogurt or place the yogurt in a sheet of cheesecloth and strain it. Chicken paprikash makes excellent leftovers because the dish's flavor improves in the fridge. Cover and refrigerate leftovers promptly and use them within three days.
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