The weird thing is I’m not even sure I’ve had chicken paprikash before.
I’ve been sitting on this recipe for a while; a friend linked to it on Facebook and I went “Man, chicken paprikash, that sounds awesome,” and bookmarked it, and then went through a few weeks where we either weren’t cooking very much or were mostly cooking stuff we’ve made before, which I don’t tend to give any attention to.
Note that the recipe calls for, specifically, “sweet paprika.” At the time I was unaware that paprika had varieties. A bit of research (and reading the rest of the recipe) revealed that it also comes in Hot and Smoked flavors; the Hot and Sweet are specifically Hungarian in nature; if you’ve bought something just labeled “paprika” it was probably sweet paprika, as the hot variety tends to always be labeled as such.
For, as it turns out, a damn good reason.
Witness this exercise in understatement, ladies and gentlemen:
If you enjoy spicy food, try replacing half of the sweet paprika with hot Hungarian paprika.
Oh, well, hell. I’m not actually a huge fan of spicy, but I’ve been making a concerted effort to improve my palate in that area; I’ve gotten to the point where I can tolerate sriracha (and, more to the point, want sriracha) on, well, just about bloody everything. I can handle, barely, the hottest wings at hot wings places, although I’m not at the point where I can finish an eating challenge or anything like that.(*)
Anyway, I found proper paprikas after looking around a bit; I was proud enough of it that I took a picture of the cans. I sniffed them; the hot paprika honestly didn’t seem all that different from the sweet. At the time. So instead of two tablespoons of sweet paprika, as the recipe calls for, I used a tablespoon of sweet and a tablespoon of hot. It’s a goddamn Martha Stewart recipe. Isn’t she from goddamn Minnesota or something like that? She don’t know from spicy.
I didn’t realize what I’d done until tasting a fingertip’s worth of the sauce before I dropped the chicken into it. It’s got a nice delay on it; it takes a few seconds of man-that’s-not-hot-at-all and then you’re trying to find a cow.
Hot Hungarian paprika is no goddamn joke, people. I’ve made food that I tried to make super hot that didn’t come close to this shit. And there was only a tablespoon in there. Considering the amounts of cayenne and red pepper flakes that I’ve blithely tossed into chilis and pulled pork and, hell, my tikka masala, you’d think that basic food preparations would have lost the ability to kill me.
Neither of us could finish it. I ended up putting some sauce on the noodles along with a healthy dollop of additional sour cream and that made it pretty tasty and, well, edible, but I made four chicken breasts and right now two of them are in the fridge and I don’t think they’re going anywhere. This isn’t a “Man, lookit how I screwed up dinner this time!” post, really; I did everything right and the chicken was cooked properly– I just didn’t have any idea what a sonofabitch that hot paprika was going to be.
I cannot wait until the next time I make chili, though.
(*) Seriously TMI addendum: We went to BW3’s for dinner the other night, and I had about five of whatever they call their hottest wings. People joke about those hurting coming out. This, as it turns out, isn’t true. Eating super spicy hot wings does not sear as it comes out the next day. What it does, folks, is paralyze your asshole, numbing it to such a degree that being able to tell if you’re shitting or not is not actually possible. It is an incredibly odd feeling to go to the bathroom and then, ten minutes later, be standing in your living room and having to admit to yourself that it is entirely possible that you’re shitting yourself and you can’t tell. It is deeply goddamn unpleasant; I’d rather have pain.