Friday, 3 October 2014

Hungarian Pork & Pepper Goulash

I went to The Ginger Pig in Borough Market for the pork for this: not on a special mission as such but I had to go and get some coffee beans from Monmouth anyway so figured I may as well (and I love the butchers in there, they’re awesome). I got some nice smoked back bacon while I was at it (which we had for breakfast - delicious. And it is kind of relevant).

Anyway - the butcher,when we’d had a bit of a chat about what I wanted, brought me out some perfectly, slightly fatty pork from the back. As he was dicing it for me he asked me what exactly I was going to cook with it. Hungarian Goulash I replied. “That’s just stew innit!” was his retort. “I suppose so” I laughed “with paprika”.

And of course that is right - gulyás in Hungarian is a soup or stew of meat and vegetables, seasoned, predominantly, with paprika. Although originating in what was the Kingdom of Hungary, today goulash is a popular meal throughout Central Europe as well as Scandinavia and Southern Europe.

In Hungary, goulash does not rely on flour or a roux for thickening: garlic, tomato, caraway, peppers, potatoes (which can help as a thickening agent, which is why I have added one here), other root vegetables and wine are all optional. The type of meat from which it is made is also optional with beef, veal, pork, or lamb all being popular. Traditionally goulash is served with small egg noodles called csipetke which is similar to spätzle. Alternatively just serve with ribbon pasta such as tagliatelle or even rice.

Two other things to note by the way, firstly I had saved the bacon drippings from our proper bacon (seriously, the bacon from the Ginger Pig is amazing - so much better than supermarket rubbish) and egg breakfast BUT the PollyCat, while we were out for the day managed, in her ninja cat way, to hunt it down and eat it. I’ve put it in the recipe but olive oil will be an acceptable substitute if like me, you don’t have any bacon fat hanging around.

And, confession, I didn’t buy soured cream - I’m tight and as I was already buying normal cream for the preceding turkey meatball recipe (which only needed 50ml) I was loathe to spend the same again for soured cream. So I made it. If you want to do the same (although I should point out this dish almost certainly would be better with real soured cream as the taste isn’t quite the same), just add 1-2 tsp of half white vinegar, half lemon juice per 150ml double or single cream (so in this case about ½ -1 tsp for the amount of soured cream you need).

Hungarian Pork & Pepper Goulash
serves 2-3

500g good slightly fatty pork from a butcher (e.g skinless shoulder), cut into largeish chunks
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil (& / or bacon dripping if you have it)
1 red onion, peeled and finely sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp mild smoked paprika
1 heaped tsp hot Hungarian paprika
½ tbsp caraway seeds, toasted
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1-2 peppers (use different colours if possible), sliced into strips
1 small-med potato, peeled and diced
350ml pork (or chicken or beef) stock
200g tin plum tomatoes
100ml red wine
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
50-75ml soured cream
zest of ½ lemon
small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 175°C.

Heat the oil in a cast iron casserole over medium heat.

Add the onions, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.

Increase the heat a little and add the pork chunks. Season with salt and pepper and cook, uncovered, stirring once or twice, until the meat is lightly browned, about 6 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, smoked paprika, oregano, and caraway and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes, potatoes, wine and stock and bring to a boil, then cover and put in the oven.

Cook for about 1½ - 2 hours, or until the meat is tender, stirring occasionally. If more liquid is needed to keep the meat covered (to be honest I don’t think it will be needed), add a little more stock or water.

Once the meat begins to feel tender take out of the oven and squash down the potatoes and pork a little to try and break them up a little. Add the peppers, hot paprika, and vinegar.

Put the lid back on and put the pot back in the oven and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the peppers are tender but not mushy.

Stir the soured cream, lemon zest and most of the parsley together in a little bowl.

Serve with buttered tagliatelle or steamed rice with the bowl of soured cream on the side and scatter over the rest of the parsley and a little hot paprika.

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