From Jonathan Harker’s Journal, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Chapter 1
“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.”
“I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was "mamaliga", and eggplant stuffed with sausage, a very excellent dish, which they call "impletata". (Mem., get recipe for this also.)”
Poor Jonathan Harker likely never got the chance to share the recipes with Mina, since he barely escaped Castle Dracula with his life. But having been in the region myself, I can say that “paprika hendl,” otherwise known as chicken paprikash, is a wonderful dish. In 1987–88, I spent my senior year of high school in West Berlin, Germany. For the most part, I stayed in the city. But when my family came to visit for two weeks for my eighteenth birthday, we drove through to West Germany to explore the countryside. The Rhine was flooded, and many towns were struggling with the damage. Tourism was way down in the area, so when we did show up, we got a lot of attention, and had a lot of long dinners with innkeepers who were happy to talk well into the evening. One of the most memorable dishes I had was chicken paprikash. So in honor of Stoker’s mention of this dish, I share the recipe that I am now frequently asked to make. It’s my own variation. Feel free to experiment.
Chicken Paprikash2 tbl hot paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 large onion, chopped
3 to 4 tsp butter
2 to 3 lb. chicken breast, cut into large pieces
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup sour cream
Sauté the onions in butter until browned. Add both kinds of paprika, add the chicken and brown. Stir in the stock and wine. Cover and simmer on low hear for an hour, or until the chicken is very tender. A few minutes before serving, stir in the sour cream.
It’s traditionally served with dumplings, but can also be served over egg noodles or the German-style pasta, spätzle.
As for the mamaliga, Harker describes it as a porridge. It can be served at any meal. It’s served with bacon at breakfast. For lunch, it’s often baked with feta and served with butter on top, and for dinner, it is used as a base for a stew. It can also be served with a jam or confectioner’s sugar as a sweet treat.
Mamaliga3-1/2 cups water
Salt, to taste
1 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into bits
extra butter, melted, for serving
Combine the water and salt in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Add 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal in a steady stream and whisk until the water returns to boiling. Gradually add the rest of the cornmeal, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook the mixture, covered, until thickened and cooked through, 10 minutes.
Add in the butter, a piece at a time, stirring constantly. Continue stirring until the mixture leaves the sides of the pan, about 5 minutes more.
Transfer the mamaliga to a medium size oval bowl and flatten the surface with a wet spoon. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Invert the mamaliga onto a plate and sprinkle with the melted butter. Serves 6 to 8.
And lastly, a recipe for eggplant stuffed with sausage, or as Mr. Harker refers to it, impletata. There are many variations of this recipe, and personally, I’d add some tomato sauce to this one, but these kinds of recipes are very forgiving when it comes to substituting ingredients.
Impletata1 eggplant, halved length-wise
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbl chopped fresh parsley
½ cup olive oil
½ cup white wine
1 lb spicy sausage
2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, chop, and reserve. Season shells with salt and pepper, and coat with some olive oil; set aside
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Saute sausage and garlic until sausage is evenly brown. Stir in the reserved chopped eggplant. Season with parsley, salt and pepper. Pour in wine, and cook 5 minutes. Mix in the bread crumbs and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. If mixture is dry, stir in more olive oil. Stuff mixture into eggplant shells, and sprinkle top with remaining Parmesan cheese.
- Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until eggplant is tender.
(post originally published January 29, 2011)