Monday, November 7, 2011

Hungarian Pork Goulash

Slice your onion.

One of my all-time favorite Hungarian recipes (yes, I know, I say that of all the ones I post up LOL) is Hungarian Goulash (also known as gulyas leves). Goulash is named after the herdsman (or gulyas, in Hungarian) who made it out of whatever meat they had at hand. My family comes from the north eastern section of Hungary, and pork is the traditional meat of choice for this recipe. There are quick ways of making goulash, but honestly, the longer ways are much better. This is NOT a good crock-pot soup, however you can make it a day ahead, and then let the finished product stay heated in a crock pot almost indefinitely without losing anything. Usually, I serve this with a nice crusty bread, hopefully hot from the oven. It's topped with a thick dollop of sour cream, and salt and pepper to taste.

Onions and garlic and paprika!
Ingredients (goulash):

  • pork (tenderloin or steaks, cubed)
  • onions
  • garlic
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • peas
  • paprika
  • butter and/or olive oil
  • broth (make your own from pork bone, or beef)
Ingredients (noodles):
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 pinch salt
  • enough flour to make a very stiff dough

Diced pork tenderloin.
Heat a cast iron or other large pan on the stove and melt a little butter or olive oil into it. While waiting for that to be ready, cut up your onion(s). I use one large onion per pound of meat usually. Take off the ends and peel the onion, then cut it in half, and put the cut side down on your cutting board. Cut the half in half (ie two quarters), and then slice thinly to make small curves of onion. Repeat with the other half, and slide the slices into your oil. Cover with one or two tablespoons of paprika and saute for a few minutes until the onions are soft.

LOTS of paprika...
While the onions are cooking, chop up two cloves of garlic and then add them to the onions. When the onions begin to brown a bit, or are very soft, slide into a soup pot. Dice up your pork into one inch or smaller cubes.

In the pan, drizzle a bit more olive oil or butter and add your diced pork, and coat it liberally with paprika (3 or more tablespoons!). Cook just long enough to brown all sides of the meat thoroughly, but not enough to cook it all the way through. You are sealing in the juices before making the soup, so that the pork will be tender and delicious when it is served. Add the seared pork to the pot with the onions and garlic. 

Carrots and spuds.
Peel and coin your carrots, and add to the pot. I use about 3 large carrots per pound of meat, but you can adjust to taste. I also added two large potatoes, diced (skin on, but again, you may want to peel them). Now add in enough broth to just barely cover everything in the pot, and bring it to a full boil. When it is boiling, reduce the heat to a bare simmer, and then cover and cook for 3+ hours.

Usually, we also put little hand made noodles into this soup. In America they'd probably be referred to more as dumplings, but in Hungary they are called csipetke, which means "pinched noodles." They are pretty close to Polish spetzle, and are cooked right in the soup (although if you like them they can also be sauteed up with butter and onions and served as a side dish!). 

Everything in the pot.
To make the noodles, crack one egg into a mixing bowl and beat it well. Add a pinch of salt, and then add a few tablespoons of flour. Mix well, and continue adding flour until you have a very stiff dough that can be turned out and kneaded gently on a table. Using both hands, flatten the dough until it is about a quarter to a half inch thick. 

Bring your soup back to a boil, and then begin pinching off bits of the dough and dropping them into the soup. The "noodles" should be about the size of a lima bean, and it's just fine if they're irregular in size and shape. Once they are all in the soup (one egg worth of this dough is enough for a large pot of soup), lower the heat a bit and keep it at a heavy simmer for about five minutes to let the noodles thoroughly cook. 

The finished goulash.
This soup should be ladled into wide bowls and have a large spoonful of sour cream added to the top. For visual purposes, you can add a sprinkle of paprika to the sour cream if you like, though it isn't necessary. Serve with hot bread and butter, and fresh dill pickles. The flavors blend well, and will keep people coming back for thirds and even fourths, long after they ought to stop. 

A short note for those who may not have real paprika in their cupboard. Please consider purchasing some real paprika. Hungarian paprika has a distinct, smokey flavor that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the red powder that is American paprika. Hungarian paprika also comes in two kinds: sweet and hot. This recipe is made with the sweet paprika (though it has a tiny bite to it when used in the quantities called for here), but if you want more heat to your flavor, you can add a pinch or two of the hot paprika, too. 

The finished product, with sour cream.

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