Romany Chicken

In 1985 I became a fanatical admirer of the music of Franz Liszt. I also re-read Bram Stoker's Dracula, wherein we find Jonathan Harker dining on a spicy chicken dish prepared with paprika. This recipe is inspired by that sudden passionate obsession for things Hungarian and Romanian. It has evolved over the years and is perhaps my signature recipe. Nothing could be easier to prepare and yet it is wonderful. There is also a grilled version, but I will cover that separately.

We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem. get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called "paprika hendl," and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. (Dracula, Bram Stoker, pg. 1)


  • Skinless Chicken Breasts, Quarters or Thighs
  • 1 Sliced Yellow Onion
  • 1 Sliced Orange
  • Marsala or Sherry
  • Rice
  • Black Pepper
  • Hot Hungarian Paprika
  • Mace
  • The Method:

    Place the skinless chicken pieces in a baking dish. Splash in enough marsala or sherry to cover the bottom of the dish and make a good gravy base. Dribble with orange juice squeezed from a fresh orange (be sure to pick out any seeds as they will make the sauce bitter!) or else use packaged orange juice. The orange juice isn't absolutely essential, but its nice. Lightly sprinkle black pepper and poultry seasoning (if desired). Encrust the chicken with hungarian paprika. Seriously. Go berserk. Dust with a healthy amount of mace (the spice, naturally, not the self-defense spray!). Arrange the sliced onions around and over the chicken so as to let them cook and brown but so that they will not interfere with the cooking of the chicken.

    Cover and cook on 375 to 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover and cook another 15 to 20 minutes to let the top brown a bit.

    Serve with rice, using the cooked onions and gravy from the baking dish to anoint the rice. Green peas and carrots seem to compliment this dish. I like a spicy zinfandel with this dish, but a riesling or other German white will nicely accompany this as well.

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