Michael Berkowits’ Kosher Chicken Paprikash

Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Last week I visited with my friend, Michael Berkowits, a retired chef and Holocaust survivor living here in Southern California. I first met Michael last year through my friend and fellow food writer Jackie Dodd, who blogs at DomesticFits.com and TheBeeroness.com. At that time, she ran a social work program for local seniors (she has since gone on to write a fabulous cookbook!). Ever since Jackie introduced us, Michael and I have stayed in touch. When we first met, he shared his incredible life story with me, which I wrote about in this post: Michael Berkowits’ Tiramisu. If you haven’t had a chance to read his story yet, please do. Have tissues handy. He is a wonderful person who has been through so much, yet he remains positive and full of life. I feel so blessed to know him.

Michael has been wanting to teach me his recipe for Kosher Chicken Paprikash, so last Wednesday I headed over to his place for a cooking lesson. My assistant Ashley came along for the ride to snap pics. Michael walked us through the process of making the recipe, step-by-step.

Michael became familiar with this dish during his childhood. He grew up in Transylvania (what is now the central part of Romania, and was once part of Hungary). Because of his background, many of his family recipes have a Hungarian influence. Michael’s mother, who sadly was lost in the Holocaust, cooked this dish for him when he was a young boy. After moving to Israel and later America, Michael became a chef. Though he cooks a variety of foods from around the world, the Hungarian-inspired dishes hold a special place in his heart.

Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

This chicken paprikash might be slightly different than the paprikash you’re familiar with. Many Hungarian paprikash recipes contain sour cream, which adds creaminess to the sauce. Because Michael grew up kosher and milk was never mixed with meat, this recipe contains no dairy. The sauce is rich and thick, but not creamy. Nowadays kosher cooks can substitute dairy-free sour cream in a dish like this, but back then soy-based dairy substitutes didn’t exist. If you aren’t worried about keeping it kosher, you can stir in 1/2 cup sour cream (or more to taste) at the end of cooking. That said, I honestly don’t feel like the dish needs it. I didn’t miss the sour cream here at all. This chicken paprikash is totally delicious as-is.

Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Traditionally the dish is served over what Michael called nokeli – in some regions it is known as nokedli or spätzle. These simple little egg noodle dumplings couldn’t be easier to make. I’ve provided instructions here: Nokedli – Spätzle. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making the dumplings (or if you’re gluten free), you can easily sub mashed potatoes, rice, or even quinoa. The dish pairs well with a starch, but you could also serve it with a green vegetable or mashed cauliflower to make it low carb. It’s a versatile entree.

After we cooked, we ate together and chatted about Michael’s new hobby. He’s recently started organizing large dinners for the residents of his retirement complex. Everybody pitches in money for the ingredients, then Michael cooks the food. They’ve been doing it twice a month, but the residents are enjoying it so much they’ve asked him to do it every week! Not surprising, Michael’s food is really amazing.

I’ve broken down Michael’s instructions to create the Kosher Chicken Paprikash recipe below. It’s a pretty simple dish to make. This is a hearty but healthy cold weather dish, a super comforting meal. Thanks to Michael for sharing!

To learn to make Nokedli – Spätzle, click here.

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Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Kosher Chicken Paprikash

Paprikash Ingredients

  • 12 pieces chicken legs and thighs
  • 2 tsp paprika (Hungarian paprika is best)
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 tsp chicken consomme powder
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley, divided
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Homemade nokedli (spätzle) for serving - recipe here

You will also need

  • Large sauce pot, blender
Kosher Key: Meat
  • Before he begins, Michael likes to take the skin off of the chicken, so the dish doesn't contain as much fat. You can leave the skin on if you prefer.
  • Sprinkle the chicken pieces generously with paprika, salt and pepper (if using kosher chicken, salt lightly).
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipePlace the bell peppers, tomatoes, chicken consomme powder and garlic into a blender.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeBlend to form a sauce.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeIn a large pot, heat olive oil over medium. Saute the onion slices in olive oil until tender.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeOnce the onions have softened and are starting to caramelize, add the seasoned chicken pieces to the pot. Saute for a few minutes.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipePour the blended sauce over the top of the chicken pieces. Add water till the sauce just covers the chicken.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeSprinkle with 3 tbsp of the chopped parsley, season with salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 1/4 tsp of each), and bring to a boil.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeReduce heat to a low simmer. Cover the pot, vented slightly.
  • Cook the chicken for about 1 hour or to desired tenderness. The longer it simmers the more tender it becomes.
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash RecipeWhen the chicken is finished cooking, adjust salt and pepper seasoning to taste. Mix together 2 tbsp cornstarch with 3 tbsp of cold water. Gently stir the corn starch mixture into the chicken sauce and simmer for a minute or two to thicken.
  • Serve chicken and sauce over warm nokedli - spätzle or the starch of your choice. Mashed potatoes, egg noodles and rice will also work well. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tbsp chopped parsley to garnish (optional).
  • Michael Berkowits' Kosher Chicken Paprikash Recipe

Comments (111)Post a Comment

  1. One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting at my Tante’s table, surrounded by my cousins, waiting for the “Chicken & Knuckles,” a.k.a. chicken paprikash and nokedli. I can’t wait to make this for my daughter.

  2. I learned this from my Grandmother. An alternative method of cooking it to sweat the onions, take off the heat and add a generous tablespoon of paprika (on the heat will bitter the paprika taste). Then add your chicken pieces on high heat to brown. Drop heat to low and cover. Don’t add water unless you think it will burn. After about 30 minutes add the (two) seeded peppers (I use cubanelle) and one peeled and seeded tomato. Cook uncovered for about another 30 minutes. I like the idea of blending the peppers and tomatoes. I will try that next time.

  3. My Hungarian mother-in-law made something very similar but much more basic. Sauteed a lot onions (she chopped them) in a little oil until starting to caramelize and then stir paprika into the onions. Sprinkle the chicken with salt, pepper and paprika and stir into the onions. Pour in some water or chicken stock if you have it, cover and cook over low heat until the chicken is falling off the bone. She always served it over rice dusted with parsley and a Hungarian cucumber and onion salad. I started making this when I was a young bride and my now-adult son tells me that mine was better than hers, a point even my mother-in-law conceded!

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Please tell Michael that his recipe for Csirke Paprikasch (that’s how one writes it) is delicious. My family also comes from Transylvania, from a little village called Deva. They were practically all murdered during the Shoah. The best recipes come from that area, and you should take advantage of Michael’s knowledge to get more recipes. Especially cookies, cakes and deserts are to die for ! (the US pies and cookies simply cannot compete with these…). Do get some more recipes from him!

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this tonight and it was delicious! I added a little more corn starch to help it thicken, and used only 9 pieces of chicken. I also added a little bit of cayenne for kick. It was such a great smell filling the kitchen, and yes, good paprika is a must! Thank you for providing a blog with such a wonderful list of recipes!

  6. The dish has always had stick-to-it-iveness. My dad (may he rest in peace) used to say, even into his 70’s, that he could still taste the paprikash from his bar mitzvah! (My paternal grandfather was from Munkacs, now part of Ukraine.)

    1. Hi Judy, it is powdered chicken bouillon that can be reconstituted with liquid. It is available in most grocery stores, usually where the chicken broth is sold.

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori,
    This looks great! I saw a previous post with someone asking about consomme powder. Is this the same as bouillon powders? Aren’t those mainly sodium or is this something else? At BJ’s and at Restaurant Depot (my brothers both have memberships) I’ve gotten chicken stock pastes. Could these be used instead of the powders?

    1. Hi Dave– yes, you can use a chicken stock paste and then add salt to taste, if desired. Consomme powder is very salty but it also adds a savory flavor.

  8. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hurrah! I did not grow up kosher, but I have an aversion to mixing dairy and meat … and this paprikash looks and sounds delicious.

  9. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    My father’s family is of Hungarian Jewish descent, and we have a very similar recipe for chicken paprikash! My mother always serves it over rice, but my grandmother used to make it with nokedli. It’s also really wonderful for matzo balls during Passover.

    Another thing my grandmother did was making “weiner paprikash” with hotdogs. Very 1970s.

  10. Can’t wait to try this. I haven’t made chicken paprikash in years. My the Lord’s blessings be on you both! Shalom.

  11. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Made this tonight for dinner (my family is from Budapest so I’m always up for Hungarian food). It was amazing. I added some caraway seeds as well. Highly, highly recommend it.

  12. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thank you Tory for all your recipes and the accompanying background information. I made chicken catch me last week. It was a great hit. Tonight, we will be dining on chicken paprikash and marble cake.
    Once again thanks,

  13. My grandmother used to make paprikash with the sour cream and LOVE the recipe that is dairy free. She also did hers with chicken legs or thighs. What about breast instead? Would it get tough/stringy during the cooking process? I’ve never been one to eat meat off the bone– hmm.. what about boneless thighs?

    1. Breast on the bone would work well, but the cooking time should be reduced to 45 minutes so it doesn’t become dry. Boneless thighs would probably work too, but the sauce won’t be as rich (the bones give a nice depth to the flavor) and the meat will cook much faster without bones- it may only take 20-30 minutes, which means the sauce won’t have as much time to reduce. Maybe reduce the sauce without chicken for 30 minutes, then add the boneless thighs until cooked through. That’s just a guess, I haven’t tested it this way. Enjoy!

  14. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I make this with chunks of tomato, I don’t blend the sasuce but let it cook with the other ingredients without the chicken consomme. It gives a lovely broth as well.
    My background is Budapest Hungarian and no sour cream ever entered my mom’s paprikas. We always had it with hand cut nokedli as mentioned by others.

  15. Looks great, being Hungarian countless time I make this favorite dish for my children, I do not use sour cream, and I do not use parsley in mine. Hungarian paprika is the secret,which I have on hand always! bringing it from Hungary/home made/ who ever makes this delicious dish, enjoy it!

  16. Thanks for sharing Mr.Berkowitz painful experiences, so many similar horrors I heard,my mom was selected by that animal also,never saw her parents and sister w/ her baby again.It effected my life tremendously, we should never forget!

  17. Thank you for sharing the story and his recipe. Give him a hug for me should you see him. I truly hope no one has to suffer in that way ever again. I am glad he got to meet the man who gave him good advice to save his life. As usual I love your blog girl!

  18. Thanks for posting this Tori Avey. Will have to try it tomorrow for our Shabbat Chicken dinner. Have never been able to recreate a version that compares to the one my husbands grandmother made. She never gave it to my Mother in Law. And my family did not grow up on the dish as we were not Hungarian.

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