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Category Archives: recipe
Lentil Stew (Lencse Főzelék)
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 20 January, 2017 in Cook ,

The New Year is a time rich in superstitions, wherever you are in the world, and many of those superstitions involve food. In Hungary, you’d be doing yourself a disservice for the rest of the year if you didn’t eat plenty of lentils to ring in the new year. And to increase your chances for luck and success in the coming year, you should also eat roasted pork and kocsonya (pork aspic) with your lentils. Since pigs symbolize progress, the pork will bring you luck. As in many other cultures, lentils and legumes—which are round and disk-shaped, resembling coins—will bring you wealth. Whatever you do, just don’t eat chicken (which will scratch away your luck) or fish (which will swim away with your luck). Though I’m not superstitious, I do love the comfort of food traditions (however silly they may sound). So I always look forward to the ritual of eating lentils on New Year’s day (why risk it!). Since the year is still young, and eating lentils shouldn’t be confined to New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, I share this recipe for lentil főzelék. This is the way my mother-in-law prepares lentil főzelék, which she usually embellishes with roasted meat or sausage. Főzelék is a classic Hungarian vegetable preparation (usually served as a main course) in which sour cream and roux (rántás) are added to thicken cooked vegetables. It can be made of practically any type of vegetable, and it’s a frequently used cooking technique in Hungarian kitchens. Whether you are superstitious or not, this dish is perfect to eat throughout the winter.

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Birsalma Sajt (Quince Jelly)
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 23 January, 2015 in Cook ,

Birsalmasajt (quince paste)

The knobby quince has never been one of the most popular fruits. But come autumn, even the humble quince turns into a riot of taste and texture when cooked into a firm jelly. With a consistent bumper harvest of fruits throughout the autumn, Hungarians have grown used to utilizing the season’s bounty in a myriad of ways—fresh, fermented, dried, cooked, and preserved. Even quince (birsalma or birskorte), a rather unattractive and under-appreciated fruit due to its bracingly bitter flavor, becomes a seasonal delicacy when stewed in sugar and water.

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Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken)
Posted by Carolyn Bánfalvi on 19 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Cook ,

Paprikás Csirke (Paprika Chicken)

Paprikás csirke (pronounced paprikash cheerke) is one of the most classic of Hungarian dishes. Named for the large amount of paprika that goes into the sauce, the paprikás method can also be applied to veal, mushrooms, or fish. In fact, according to George Lang in The Cuisine of Hungary, it is one of the four pillars of Hungarian cooking (the others are gulyás, pörkölt, and tokány). “The chief difference between pörkölt and paprikás is that paprikás is usually finished with sweet or sour cream, sometimes mixed with a little flour, but always stirred in just before serving,” writes Lang. “You may never use cream of any kind for gulyás or pörkölt! Also, beef, mutton, game, goose, duck, and pork are most popular for pörkölt; veal and chicken for paprikás.”

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Kakashere Pörkölt (Rooster Testicle Stew)
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 11 January, 2015 in 100 Essentials ,Cook ,

Rooster Testicle Stew

Horse sausage. Kocsonya (pork jelly). Disznósajt (head cheese). Sound like an episode of Bizarre Food? Maybe. But these are also regular, if slightly unusual, Hungarian food staples which locals love eat. The Hungarian kitchen has plenty of unusual uses of well-known ingredients—poppy seeds on pasta (mákos tészta) anyone? But moist, spongy rooster testicles cooked into a paprika-spiked stew—kakashere pörkölt— is perhaps as offbeat as it gets.

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Kocsonya (Meat Jelly/Aspic)
Posted by Anna J. Kutor on 06 January, 2015 in Cook ,

Kocsonya (Meat Jelly/Aspic)

Kocsonya. The mere mention of this savory gelatinous dish takes Hungarian food-lovers back to their childhood memories and Hungarian Christmas dinners past. If your grandmother made this dish for the holidays (or Sunday lunches during wintertime), you either loved it or hated it. But there’s no denying the lingering memory of this shimmering meat jelly.

Ambivelent attitudes towards kocsonya have a lot to do with ingredients used to make it. Traditionally, pork trotters, ears, snouts, and other undesirable pork part which most people wouldn’t dream of eating are slow-cooked together with vegetables and spices, creating a thick broth which is poured into a mold and left to cool into a firm, yet wobbling, aspic jelly. To lighten and diversify the taste, other meat (beef, chicken, and even fish) is also used these days, but pork definitely dominates the home-made varieties. Depending on the cook, there may be just enough aspic to hold the solid ingredients together, or the aspic may predominate, with the juicy parts left suspended in it at intervals. Either way, it’s always served as the main meal or as part of the main meal, presented simply with a sprinkling of sweet paprika and plenty of white bread.

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