Hungarian Home Cookin’: Porkolt

For years now I have told myself I would practice my grandmother’s hungarian recipes. Best I’ve been able to pull off so far is to pull out the family recipe book on very rare occasions and practice my favorite dishes: turos csusza, veal paprika, stuffed paprika, rakott krumpli…. but when I say “recipe book” I really mean “dish descriptions” – in some cases the recipes don’t even have quantities on there! (Notice any pattern with my own half-baked recipes??)

Basically, hungarian food revolves around some key ingredients: paprika, sour cream, paprika, peppers, paprika, pork, paprika, cream, paprika, pickles, paprika, beef, paprika.. get the picture?  It’s heavy, creamy but with enough sour to cut through the heaviness, spiced warmly, and therefore perfect for cold weather.

So finally, after two years of threatening my friends, I finally prepared a hungarian dinner for them. I decided on pork porkolt, a paprika-based dish, served best with spatzle, cucumber salad, and sour cream and a pickle as garnishes. You can also make it with chicken, beef, veal.. your meat of choice basically.


Ingredients for 4: 800g of pork (thinly sliced like an émincé) –  one or two chopped onions – 1/2 or 1 whole green pepper (optional, to taste) – about a table spoon of tomato paste – tons and tons and tons of paprika – bouillon – a touch of heavy cream

The step by step:

As usual I failed to take pictures, but here’s how it went down:

1. brown the meat in a little oil

2. add chopped onions and peppers

3. cover it generously with paprika – I didn’t measure, but don’t be shy with this.

4. add in the tomato paste and stir

5. reduce heat and let it simmer until the meat’s juices run out

6. Let up with bouillon little by little, letting the sauce attach each time.

7. You can continue adding paprika, salt, pepper and tomato paste to taste until you get it to your liking.

8. Remove from heat and add a touch of heavy cream to desired creaminess.

9. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a pickle, along with cucumber salad and spatzle.

As you can see, it is very simple, and like any other recipe, it has its variations, probably at least one variation per family.

In fact, I am positive my own family has much more to say about this recipe than I do – did I miss anything? Do anything wrong? Any one care to share tips? Variations? Faux pas?

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7 thoughts on “Hungarian Home Cookin’: Porkolt

  1. Ezzz says:

    why can’t I click on your tasty recipes and have them appear on my plate?

  2. Good work! I always flour the meat a little before frying – helps thicken the sauce.

    Although this comment could cause a heated argument (like most comments in the family) it is important that this dish is served will SALT PICKLE!!!

    And beware too much cucumber salad before bedtime unless you are prepared to deal with the nightmares!

    • You know, the recipe doesn’t say to flour the meat first for porkolt, but it does for the veal/pork/chicken paprika. The paprika one also says to add a lot more cream. Doesn’t seem like enough of a difference to warrant two entirely different dishes! But of course, I love them both in any case. Maybe next time I’ll try them both, side by side…..

      Oh, and I completely agree on the pickle remark! A sweet pickle would definitely not do the trick…

  3. Marc Crean says:

    This has given me the best idea… Turkey Porkolt for my Christmas lunch tomorrow!! Presumably there is a lower risk of nightmare at Christmas so I can eat pretty much unlimited cucumber salad right?

    When’s the next instalment Claire – you should do those stuffed dumplings – no idea what they are called though

  4. Kate says:

    i am late in commenting but i would just like to say that i was one of the aforementioned threatened friends, and this was delicious.

  5. […] cooking inspiration back. On the menu? An ode to my culinary paternal grandparents: Hungarian veal porkolt, cucumber salad, pickles, spatzle, sour cream, a decent bottle of wine or two, and one of my […]

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