The Hungarian word pörkölt simply means ‘roasted’ but it has evolved to refer to a meat stew, which in most parts of Hungary is made with beef or pork, with or without the addition of vegetables. Our family version, consisting of pork and mushrooms, is very much my own invention but nonetheless redolent of Hungary. Cheap and filling, it can be made in a slow cooker, or on the hob or in the oven and is a useful vehicle for using up leftover red wine. For a delicious vegetarian alternative, use a variety of mushrooms instead of the meat and bingo, you have a gombapörkölt.
900g lean diced pork
300g mushrooms, quartered
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp vegetable, sunflower or groundnut oil
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
187ml small bottle red wine
200ml vegetable stock or water
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp paprika (csipős (spicy) or csemege (mild) according to preference)
2 tbsp piros arany (ditto)
½ tsp salt and a good grind of pepper
A small pot of soured cream
Preheat the oven to 140 fan.
Heat the oil in a casserole pan for which you have a lid, then cook the onions for about 10 minutes, adding the garlic towards the end. Raise the heat, add all the meat and cook, stirring, until all the surfaces of the meat have turned opaque. Now add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes. Sprinkle in the flour, paprika, salt and pepper, add the piros arany and stir until everything is well coated and looking quite orange. (Note: go easy on the salt if you’re using piros arany, which is quite salty already.) Pour in the wine and stock or water and bring to a simmer. There may not look like a lot of liquid at this stage but the mushrooms will release water and you’ll be adding soured cream at the end. Put the lid on the pan and cook in the oven for about an hour and a half, or until the pork is really tender. In the meantime, make your cucumber salad (see below) and cook some rice.
Just before serving, stir in the soured cream. There’s no need to reheat.
2 large cucumbers
1-2 tsp salt
50 ml white wine vinegar
100 ml water
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp dill, chopped
½ tsp paprika
Soured cream or crème fraiche
Peel the cucumbers and slice thinly (a mandolin or the slicing attachment of a food processor will speed this up). Place cucumber slices in a colander, add salt, stir and leave to disgorge juices for an hour (ideally, but 30 mins will do).
Dissolve the sugar in a little boiling water, then add vinegar and taste: add more sugar if necessary; top up with cold water; chill.
Rinse the cucumber slices and transfer to a shallow serving bowl. Pour over the dressing and plop a little soured cream / crème fraiche in the middle. Sprinkle over paprika and chopped dill