Tomorrow is Halloween and I’d like to play a short game with you. I give you just one word, the name of a country and you tell me which book I am referring to: Transylvania.
Too easy? Of course I am talking about Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Count Dracula, who just recently bought a house in London and took a ship (of which he ate the entire crew) from Transylvania to Whitby, England is really into eating Mina Murray’s best friend Lucy. Mina happens to be the wife-to-be of Jonathan Harker, a lawyer who is (at the very beginning of the novel) asked by Count Dracula to travel to his castle in Transylvania in order to see if everything is alright with the contract to purchase the before mentioned house in London and in order to learn something about the English habits. On his journey Jonathan notices a lot of weird things, people begging him not to go or giving him ‘presents’ which are supposed to save him. From what? He has no idea yet. While travelling he writes in his journal:
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, page 9)
As Jonathan is clearly busy with more important things (e.g. hunting Count Dracula), I thought I’d step in and make myself useful. So, Mina, here you go:
Paprika Hendl with crispy smashed potatoes
Ingredients (for 3 spooky Halloween guests)
– 1kg chicken thighs or drumsticks
– shallots (a lot – 200g)- 1 table spoon tomato paste
– 1 table spoon sweet paprika powder
– 1 table spoon marjoram
– at least 1l chicken soup
– 150g sour cream
– 50g flour
– salt (and pepper)
– 9 potatoes
Fry the chicken in margarine in a large pan (or better in a large pot, there will be a lot of soup) until the chicken thighs are brown from each side, however they do not have to be completely done yet. Take them out of the pan and put them aside.
Cut the onions and fry them in the same pan, add the tomato paste and the sweet paprika powder and stir until the onions are soft and see-through. Then douse with chicken soup and let it boil up briefly. Put the chicken back in and make it simmer for about 40 minutes. The soup has to cover the chicken! Don’t forget to cook the potatoes in an extra pot in salted water for about 30 minutes, then let them cool down for another 10 minutes.
Now you have enough time to dress appropriately for your Halloween party!
Are you back? Good! First of all put the potatoes on a baking tray and smash them with a cup or something heavy, and put them in the oven (450F or 230C) for another 15 minutes until they are – you probably can guess this one – crispy smashed potatoes.
The next step is really, really important in order to get the perfect ‘paprika hendl’. Take the chicken out of the soup again, then mix the sour cream and the flour in an extra bowl and until well blended. Then add a little bit from the soup so that everything has the same temperature. Afterwards add the chicken to the soup and let it boil up briefly again. After another 15 minutes you are ready to serve your delicious paprika hendl.
Note: While searching for the best recipe for ‘paprika hendl’, I’ve found Frau Zii’s Blog called ziiikocht.. was. And what can I tell you? I just loved the ‘paprika hendl’, however I modified the recipe here and there. But Frau Zii’s blog is one of my new favourite blogs, so I added it to our blogroll. Make sure to pay her a visit! However, I need to apologise as well to Frau Zii and the paprika hendl. They are both from Austria and it may seem as an absolute no-go to add potatoes instead of the traditional ‘Butternockerl’ side dish. But what can I say? I just love, love, love potatoes and while browsing through the blog oh she glows I fell in love with the crispy smashed potatoes and had to try them immediately. And it is as expected: The smashed potatoes and the paprika hendl are the perfect match! It was absolutely delicious!
And what about the book, you ask? Mina, Dr. Seward, whose patients from his asylum mysteriously disappear from time to time – any ideas where to? Anybody? – Dr. Van Helsing and Jonathan try to kill the vampire. Count Dracula, however, has many talents, from appearing as a large dog, to climbing out the window like a wizard, to not having a reflection in the mirror and he loves women … So you can figure out that the chase won’t be an easy one! The book was published in 1897 and is one of the classics every book lover has to read some time in his/her life. But travelling alone, especially by night or staying at home alone might not be advisable while reading. You may also add some extra garlic to the paprika hendl or you put some garlic over your bed. Not all vampires are as cute as Twilight might suggest… So invite some friends over (Thanks, Ellen and Caro for joining and protecting me!)
Happy Halloween, guys. Oh, and Mina? You’re welcome and thanks for saving the world! It is really appreciated. I am on my couch, in case you need any help …