A dish from that you can never have enough: beef pörkölt

beef pörkölt from the Taste of Memories country kitchenI am standing at our front door- the only place in our house where is mobile phone coverage- and I am listening to my grandmother who is explaining how she cooks pörkölt, the traditional Hungarian dish that everybody knows and who tried once, most probably will never forget. Mami always loved cooking and you get already hungary only because of the way she talks about it. After that conversation there was no question what I am going to cook in this week’s blog post, and whose recipe I am going to share. Anyway: can you imagine anything that is more soul warming, than a pörkölt, with tender meat bites, thick sauce which the perfect combination and concentrated taste of onion, pepper and tomato?
Pörkölt is our national dish, a dish that we are really proud of and of course its recipe is always a matter of debate among Hungarian people. The way you cook it, what type of meat you use, in which order you add ingredients, how you season it and how you serve it can vary from family to family. My mother’s mother cooks dumplings to eat which she calls “galuska”, my Swabian grandmother serves pörkölt the same way but she calls it nokedli. My mother swears to shank, my grandmother to chuck. However we have one thing in common: pörkölt brings people together, regardless which nations they belong to. It is calling to gather around the table and take a spoon of the thick stew. Once we used to cook pörkölt for family members who returned from a long journey, maybe because it reminds us the taste of home. If we have some left-overs from yesterday, we can cook a goulash soup from it. We can top a vegetable stew with it. Or we can warm up a little portion, grab a slice of fresh bread and eat it standing at the kitchen cupboard secretly, as a snack.
Honestly, pörkölt is a dish that you will never get tired of- (and never get enough of by the way!)

Marhapörkölt galuskával/ Beef pörkölt/stew with dumplings
Ingredients for 4 person:
600 g young beef or veal (shank,chuck or neck)
1 tomato
1 pepper
1 big yellow onion (or two smaller)
1 clove of a garlic
1 pinch of ground cumin
1 tsp. paprika
ground black pepper
salt
oil

For the dumplings
400 g flour
approximately. 250 ml water (liszttől függ, de lágy, ragacsos állag a cél)
2 eggs
salt
sunflower or olive oil

Dice onion and half of the pepper and tomato. Remove any larger pieces of fat and sinew from the beef and cut it into 2 cm cubes. Heat up oil in a large pot, add onion, salt it and let it cook for a few minutes. Add peppers and tomato and stirring it cook it for 5 more minutes. Add meat, and stirring occasionally cook it until it whitens. Remove pot from heat, add paprika, cumin, ground pepper and the garlic clove cut lengthwise. Put the pot back to the heat, add a little bit of water, salt according to your taste, and the rest of pepper and tomato cut into half, cover it and cook it at low heat until meat is tender. Check it regularly, if water evaporated, add some more but not too much. It took me 2 hours to cook it, but it depends on the age and quality of meat. Take out a piece of meat, and check its tenderness. In the meantime, I prepare galuska/dumplings. Fill up a large pot with water, add salt and bring it to boil. Mix the flour with one egg and the water: it should be a sticky, soft dough. Don’t stir it too much anyway your dumplings will be too hard. You will need a spaetzle maker or you can use a wooden board and a wet knife to cut small pieces of the dough into the boiling water. Place the spaetzle maker upside down on the top of the pot so it will be a bit wet so the dough won’t stick to it. Prepare another pot next to the other one and pour a few drops of oil into it. When the water is boiling pour a part of the dough on the spaetzle maker and work quickly. Stir it and wait until all the dumplings come up to the surface. Use a small sieve to remove them, and pour cold water on it to stop cooking process. Moving the sieve to remove any excess water and put the dumplings into the other pot and mix with the oil so they don’t stick to each other. Continue with the rest of the dough.
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Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer

Judit Neubauer is a food photographer, chef and writer living in a small village in Northwestern Hungary. Her bilingual blog, Taste of Memories is about life in the Hungarian countryside. While she is bringing new life into the 90 year-old house and orchard of 18 fruit trees she cooks and bakes her family’s old recipes and tries to preserve traditions and old knowledge about how to live in rhythm and harmony with nature.

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