Each week I develop a new recipe to include in my newspaper column. Most recipes have gone through at least a few trials before the final recipe is ready to be published.
This week’s column focuses on potatoes, one of the few fresh locally-grown organic vegetables I have available to me at this time of year. It makes sense to include potatoes in a meal that will celebrate Earth Day on April 22.
My plan was to feature a potato-bake that could be included on a spring brunch menu, but that could also move into the grilling season as a perfect accompaniment to juicy steaks and pork tenderloins from the grill. I finally came up with Paprika Potato Bake. But on the way to the Potato Bake, Earth Day Potato Stew was born. It was too runny to serve as a side-dish with meat, but it was just right for serving in a bowl as a stew.
Growing up on food prepared by my Hungarian mother and grandma, I knew from the get-go that paprika was more than just an orange-red sprinkle over deviled eggs. I was raised on the famous "Hungarian
flavor," which is unique to the cuisine of that country, created by the
combination of lard, paprika, and onions. In Hungarian kitchens, chopped onions are always cooked to
translucency in the lard. Paprika and sour cream are added to pan drippings
after meats have been browned to make a rich sauce, which is then served over
meat and peppers.The rich sweet flavor of Hungarian paprika went into stuffed peppers, gravy for chicken, homemade sausage, potatoes and almost any dish where non-Hungarians would probably just use black pepper.
Try to find Hungarian paprika. It holds much more flavor than domestic paprika that is normally available in the grocery stores. Sometimes I can find the little red tins of Hungarian paprika at the grocery store. I like to order it online. I store it in the refrigerator in a jar, trying to preserve the distinct flavor as long as possible.
This potato stew is not difficult to prepare. You’ll notice I use olive oil rather than lard. I know this would disappoint my grandma. But I’ve incorporated lots of onions and a generous dose of paprika. It’s a warming meal on a cool spring evening.
This potato stew will help you celebrate the Earth any day.
Earth Day Potato Stew
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onion
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
- 2 pounds red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch-thick cubes
- 2 cups warm low-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 to 1 cup sour cream
- Fresh dill for garnish
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and saute over medium-high heat until they are tender and translucent. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add paprika, salt and caraway seeds. Saute for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the potatoes and chicken broth. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and cook potatoes at a low, gentle boil for about 20 minutes. Potatoes should be tender but not falling apart. Remove stew from heat. Stir in sour cream. Sprinkle with fresh dill leaves, if desired. Serve immediately. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
- The delicious flavor of paprika is released when it is heated. But be careful, it will turn bitter if it begins to burn. Always add paprika to the pan over low heat, right near the end of the onion and garlic saute time.