Szeged is a city in Hungary and is to paprika what Gilroy, California is to garlic -- in other words, the Paprika Capitol of the World.  :)  Paprika has been grown and milled in Szeged since the 1700s.


Hungarian Paprika is actually a chile powder made from the mildest of  the capsicum family, and the best paprikas have the delightful property of embodying the fruitiness and overtones which are always present in the best hot chile powders.  But, unlike New Mexico chile powder, good Hungarian paprika puts these subtleties center stage, rather than leaving them in their usual supporting role to the dominant sensation of



About four years ago, I really wanted to come up with something that would show off this characteristic fruitiness of paprika, so I concocted a very simple recipe for Mushrooms Paprikash in the extreme:



     The Old Bear's Mushrooms Paprikash


     1/2  large  sweet onion, cut in half and sliced thin

     1/3  cup    butter 

       1  pound  mushrooms, sliced

       4  Tbsp   paprika

     1/4  tsp    cayenne

       1  cup    sour cream

                 salt to taste (optional)


                 crusty french bread


     Melt half of the butter in a deep sauce pan.  Saute

     onions until translucent and tender.  Add the remaining

     butter and allow it to melt.  Add the paprika and

     cayenne.  This quantity of paprika will form a

     roux.  Add the mushrooms and saute until tender.

     Do not overcook the mushrooms or they will lose their

     texture.  Stir in the sour cream and allow to heat

     gently until warm.  Serve over rounds of lightly

     toasted crusty French bread.



This recipe is easy to adjust as you cook.  Add more butter or more paprika to get a nice, thick roux which looks almost like a flour-and-butter roux.  I've found the 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne is just about right, but you may want a little more bite -- but be careful, because if you add too much, you'll lose the paprika under the cayenne and come out with something more akin to Tex-Mex Mushrooms, which is not the intent.


I've served this as an appetizer at a dinner party, as a light supper  (with a small green salad and a crisp chilled white wine), and as a family lunch.  Most people who try it are surprised by the robust flavor of the

paprika because they're used to more traditional paprikash recipes which typically use about 1/3 of the quantity of paprika used here.