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Garden Lifestyle

From Paprika Seeds to Paprikash

It’s satisfying to have an idea in January, start seeds in March and help a plant flourish.

  • Hungarian paprika peppers need to spend time on the plant to mature to bright red.
    Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey
  • Freshly ground paprika peppers are especially aromatic.
    Photo/Illustration: Jodi Torpey

The chicken paprikash I prepared for Sunday supper was 10 months in the making. That seems like a long time for one dish, but it was worth the wait.

It was January when I decided to grow Hungarian paprika peppers with the idea to stock the pantry with some fresh spice. I ordered seeds from Renee’s Garden and started the seeds indoors in March.

In early June, I moved the plants outside. In August, the large green peppers began to turn red. As the peppers reached their full and beautiful color, I’d harvest the red pepper pods and get them ready for drying. 

They were washed, seeded and sliced into thin strips to dry on a screen in the basement. The pods can be tough to grind, so slicing them into strips helps save work when they’re dry.

I waited patiently for the plants to finish their work before I could start mine. With the plants done for the season, it was time to grind the paprika strips into spice with an electric spice mill.

As each batch of the bright orange-red spice came out of the mill, I imagined the first recipe I’d try. Fresh paprika is extremely aromatic with a sweet, earthy taste, I knew the dish would have to be something that showed off its fresh flavor. A sprinkle on deviled eggs as a garnish wouldn’t be enough.

Because paprika is considered to be a key ingredient in Hungarian cuisine, I made a big pot of chicken paprikash and let it simmer all day. In Hungary the dish is known as paprikas csirke, and it takes time (and more patience) to brown the chicken before simmering it in a chicken stock flavored with a generous helping of paprika.

The recipe made for one of the most satisfying Sunday suppers and a dish worth waiting for. 

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