...gonna kick the darkness 'till it bleeds daylight... musings of a hungarian in texas

©2003 by Annamaria Kovacs. All contents of this blog are the property of the author. Use with written permission only.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Hungarian Beef Stew (Porkolt)

I don't have the correct characters for the little umlauts over the 'o's in the name of this dish, but call me for correct pronunciation if you wish...:)

So I craved homefood yesterday, and The Husband craved meat chunks, so like a good couple, we met halfway. This is my version or a very traditional HUngarian weekday meal, as well as you can make it in the States.

You will need:
1/4 pack of natural cured bacon, finely diced (Kroger carries a version, or find a good butcher or farmers market; I got mine from the Coppell Farmers market)
3.5 pounds of beef chuck roast, boneless, cut into 1-inch cubes. Don't remove the fatty bits, just the tendons. In fact, if you got the bones from the roast, you can put them in, just remove before serving
1 large red onion, very finely chopped
1 hot banana pepper or Hungarian wax pepper, very finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1/2 bottle of decent red wine (if you're a wine drinker, save the other half to serve with the meal. Cab or merlot will do, but make sure it has body.)
freshly ground black pepper
Hungarian sweet and half-sharp paprika (forget the Spanish and Californian version for this one)
pinch of caraway seeds
pinch of marjoram

Render bacon in heavy pot over medium heat until brown. Sautee onion, garlic and green pepper until soft and starts to brown; be sure to stir to prevent from burning.
Add meat cubes,; increase heat to medium-high and sear, stirring constantly. All meat cubes don't have to necessarily be evenly browned, but aim for at least 80% gray-brown here.
Pull off heat; add 2 teaspoonsful of sweet Hungarian paprika; stir well. Add 1 tsp. of the half-sharp, or 1 more of the sweet if you only have that. Check the color-- meat cubes should be nicely red but not glowing. Add more if needed.
Put pot back on heat. As soon at it starts to sizzle, pour in wine. Season with salt, pepper, caraway seed and marjoram.
Cook under a lid for about 1.5 hours on low heat. Check for liquid levels, add water if needed. Depending on meat age etc. this might take longer or shorter. The goal is to produce a short sauce under almost-falling-apart meat cubes. The sauce should be relatively thick due to the slowly disintegrating onions and peppers, and the glutinous matter in the meat fat. Resist the temptation to add too much liquid.
Check for seasoning and correct salt if necessary.

Serve it with either plain white crusty bread (Sourdough works for this beautifully) and those tiny Kosher Dill pickles from the grocery store (trust me, don't get anything else. Kosher dill baby gherkins, 'kay?), or make Hungarian dumplings to go with it (galuska) as follows:

Beat two eggs in medium bowl with a fork until frothy. Add all-purpose flour and water and stir together until a batter forms that is thick, sticky but pulls away from the sides of the bowl as you stir it with a spoon. Season with about 1 teaspoon of salt. (About 1.5-2 cups of flour plus as much water as you need to reach the described consistency).
Boil water in a large pot. When water is boiling, take a large spoon and a knife and get to work. Spoon out some batter from the bowl, and, holding spoon over boiling water, break off little pieces with the knife into the boiling water. Stir water so dumplings don't stick together. Do about 3-4 spoonfuls of batter this way. Wait until galuskas come up to top of water, then fish them out with slotted spoon. Repeat with remaining batter. Keep galuskas warm until you serve the porkolt over them.

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At 10:21 PM, Blogger celogomama said...

Oooooh! I feel hunger pangs already! Thanks for posting!

At 8:44 AM, Blogger Annamaria said...

You're quite welcome. The good thing about this is that it's excellent for using subpar meat (i.e. grisly or fatty); you just need to cook it on slow a bit longer.
It can also be prepared in a Dutch oven over open fire--that's how it was traditionally made by cowherds.

At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

This looks really good but I have a stupid question.
I'm allergic to red wine, even when cooked into food. Is there a passable substitute you could put into this dish? I think the answer is a no, and it's perhaps a mild blasphemy for me to ask, but I wanted to ask anyway, as this dish looks really really good.


At 4:44 PM, Blogger Annamaria said...

Alex-feel free to use some white wine if you are OK with that, or even just plain water. No worries, most cowherds out on the Great Hungarian Plains didn't have wine at hand, and I made it plenty times without it too. Let me know how it turned out!

At 5:58 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Thanks for the quick reply. I'll definitely let you know how it turns out.


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