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What Is Hendl?

Hendl is a traditional Bavarian dish, a succulent roasted chicken known for its crispy skin and tender meat, often seasoned with a blend of herbs and spices. It's a staple at Oktoberfest and a beloved comfort food in German cuisine. Curious about how this hearty meal can bring a taste of Germany to your table? Let's explore the flavors and history of Hendl together.
A. Leverkuhn
A. Leverkuhn

Hendl is the Austrian term for chicken. This commonly refers to roasted chicken, which is often roasted whole, and may be cut into parts after cooking. The idea of a rotisserie chicken, which is cooked on a revolving spit, may be referred to by Austrians or others in some parts of Germany as hendl.

Different varieties of this roasted chicken dish are enjoyed in various contexts related to the historical use of this bird in regional cooking. For example, many refer to a dish called wiesn hendl that is made on the German holiday of Oktoberfest. This version of the dish does not differ a whole lot from the general broiler or rotisserie chicken. Cooks making wiesn hendl will often use butter, as well as spices like salt, pepper, and fresh herbs like parsley, to coat the skin of the chicken and provide a tasty result after roasting the bird.

Hungarian paprika is traditionally used to season paprika hendl.
Hungarian paprika is traditionally used to season paprika hendl.

Another special version of the dish is called paprika hendl. Some fans of this dish associate it with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a piece of classic literature that focuses on the Eastern European region of Transylvania. In this book, the character Jonathan Harker describes a dish that is much like the classic hendl still popular across the region.

To make paprika hendl, cooks will often coat the chicken with olive oil and garlic bits, as well as the sweet Hungarian paprika that is common to the region. Other items might include tomato juice and sour cream or other dairy products. This dish is often served with rice or noodles. Other versions of the dish in Austria or other areas can be served with a variety of vegetable side dishes, like cooked potatoes, squash, or other regional offerings.

Hendl commonly refers to roasted chicken.
Hendl commonly refers to roasted chicken.

The hendl roasted chicken is really a manifestation of a very common meat option in both Western and Eastern Europe, as well as other parts of the world. The chicken, as a domesticated bird, has become a staple of cooking in a very wide range of world cultures and societies. The roasted chicken is a relatively basic way to cook the bird whole and enjoy it without a lot of processing or extra labor. In many of today’s markets, the roasted chicken is sold already cooked in local supermarkets, and families consume the whole bird alone as an entre, or use pieces in more complex dishes.

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    • Hungarian paprika is traditionally used to season paprika hendl.
      By: Ekaterina Lin
      Hungarian paprika is traditionally used to season paprika hendl.
    • Hendl commonly refers to roasted chicken.
      By: msheldrake
      Hendl commonly refers to roasted chicken.
    • Austrians sometimes refer to chicken cooked in a rotisserie oven as hendi.
      By: Louella Folsom
      Austrians sometimes refer to chicken cooked in a rotisserie oven as hendi.