Central European

Growing up, my grandma used to make us the most simple and delicious dish which she called “cheese noodles,” and which my sister called “cheese noo-noo.” They were literally that – wavy egg noodles with cottage cheese, served warm, occasionally with a pat of butter. Pljukanci is a Croatian noodle similar to the classic egg noodle of my youth; it certainly elicits that warm and cozy familiarity for me which cheese noodles evoke.

Pljukanci (prono: ple-oo-kantsi) is a hand-rolled Croatian pasta, made by rolling small pieces of dough between the palms of your hands or on a clean surface. The shape tapers at the ends and is thicker in the middle, giving it a nice chewy texture. Pljukanci can be served with a variety of sauces, but here, I re-create one of my childhood favorites – my grandma’s cheese noodles. 


for the pljukanci dough

for assembly and serving

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) of whole milk cottage cheese


Place the flour in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook, food processor, or a large bowl if you prefer to knead by hand. Make an indent in the center of the flour and add the egg, oil, water, and salt. Mix and knead the dough until it is evenly combined not too sticky, about 5-7 minutes.

Cover the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate the dough for an hour. Cut into pieces the size of almonds and roll each piece between your palms or on a clean surface. Taper the edges by rolling the ends out more and keeping the middle of the noodles thicker.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pljukanci for about 5 minutes. Remove from the water, strain, and add butter. 

Chicken paprikash is a warm and soothing dish, perfect during the long spell of winter cold. It is a classic Central European staple which has been made for generations in endless ways. Yet all of the recipes share a principal emphasis on paprika. This is how my grandma always made it.

When combined with the other ingredients, the paprika transforms into a creamy, wondrous base that you could really eat on anything, but since this is chicken paprikash, it is served on chicken over rice. The key when adding in the sour cream is to turn off the heat then mix it in smoothly and very slowly to prevent any curdling. Mixing slowly allows it to thoroughly emulsify into the beautifully silky texture.


  • 2 pounds of chicken, a mix of breast, legs, and thighs on the bone
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 2 tablespoons salt, divided
  • 2 large yellow onions, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 ½ tablespoons smoked or hot paprika
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ cups chicken stock
  • ¾ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup parsley, chopped


Generously season the chicken with 1 tablespoon of the salt and 1 tablespoon of the pepper. Heat a dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat and cook the chicken skin side down for 7-8 minutes. Wait for the chicken skin to release from the pan then flip and cook again for another 7-8 minutes on the other side. If the chicken sticks to the pan and does not release easily, it is not ready to be flipped. 

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the sliced onions. Cook until the onions begin to turn translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook. Add the paprika, remaining 1 tablespoon of salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon of black pepper. Add the flour and cook until it has evenly combined, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and mix thoroughly. Return the chicken to the pan, cover, and simmer on medium-low heat for about 35 minutes. Chicken should be soft and cooked through.

Remove the chicken and slowly stir in the sour cream until the sauce has thickened and combined. Serve over rice, spaetzle, egg noodles, or potatoes and top with chopped parsley.