Pörkölt-Style Grilled Chicken Thighs with Stone Fruit, Fennel, and Paprika Salad

Sarah Copeland’s summery grilled chicken thighs with stone fruit, fennel, and paprika salad features paprika in the marinade and as a dressing.

Pörkölt-Style Grilled Chicken Thighs With Stone Fruit, Fennel, And Paprika Salad

Aubrie Pick

Active Time:
50 mins
Total Time:
1 hrs 50 mins
4 servings

Inspired by the flavor of Hungary’s traditional meat stew, Pörkölt, this summery chicken dish gets bold flavor from Copeland’s pickle and paprika paste marinade. Peaches, plums, and sliced fennel in the salad offer a fresh, sweet contrast to the chicken along with another hit of ground paprika in the dressing. You can also use this versatile, easy-to-make marinade for shrimp, firm whitefish, or pork.

In the recipe itself, paprika is the front runner. It appears in the form of paste that’s part of the marinade for the chicken thighs and as seasoning for the dressing for the fresh fennel and fruit salad. Hungarian supermarkets have entire aisles devoted to paprika, paprika paste, and their cousins. In the U.S., look for it in the international aisle or at dedicated Hungarian markets (like Ottos, based in Los Angeles)



  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs) 

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons hot or mild paprika paste

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped bread-and-butter pickle chips

  • 2 tablespoons bread-and-butter pickle juice 

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste 

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • 3 medium-size (6-ounce) firm-ripe peaches (unpeeled), cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges

  • 4 medium-size (4-ounce) plums (unpeeled), quartered

  • 1 small (8-ounce) fennel bulb, cut crosswise into paper-thin slices (about 2 cups)

  • 4 ounces herb-marinated farmer cheese or goat cheese

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground sweet paprika or hot paprika 

  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt

Additional Ingredient

  • Flaky sea salt


Make the chicken

  1. Combine chicken, paprika paste, pickles, pickle juice, oil, fine sea salt, and pepper in a large ziplock plastic bag; rub to coat chicken all over. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

While the chicken marinates, make the salad

  1. Arrange peach wedges, quartered plums, and sliced fennel on a large platter. Tear farmer cheese into bite-size pieces, and scatter evenly over salad. Whisk together oil, lemon juice, paprika, and fine sea salt in a small bowl. Drizzle mixture evenly over salad; set aside at room temperature until ready to serve.

  2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high. Working in 2 batches and without scraping off any excess marinade, add chicken to pan. Cook until chicken is charred in spots and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F, 6 to 8 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to a platter; season with additional fine sea salt to taste. (Alternatively, cook chicken on an outdoor grill: Preheat grill to medium-high [400°F to 450°F]. Place chicken on oiled grates, and grill, uncovered, until charred in spots and a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of chicken registers 165°F, 6 to 8 minutes per side.)

  3. Garnish salad with flaky sea salt. Serve with chicken.

Suggested pairing

Spicy, light-bodied red: J. Lohr Wildflower Valdiguié

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