Pörkölt is a meat stew which originates from Hungary, but is
eaten throughout Central Europe and the Balkans. In Hungary pörkölt is
made with boneless meat, paprika, some
vegetables and no potato.
It should not be confused with
Goulash, a stew with
more gravy or a soup (using meat with bones, paprika, caraway, vegetables and
potato or different tiny dumplings or pasta simmered along with the meat), or
Paprikás (using only meat, paprika and thick heavy sour cream). The traditional
Hungarian stews: Goulash, Pörkölt and Paprikas are considered to be the national
dishes of Hungary.
There are different pörkölt variations from region to region. In most parts of
Hungary pörkölt is made with beef or pork. The word Pörkölt simply means
"roasted". Pörkölt is made of meat, onion, and sweet paprika powder. Bell
peppers, tomatoes or tomato paste, green pepper and garlic are common additions
to the basic recipe.
Any kinds of meat can be used when making pörkölt. Most common are beef, lamb,
chicken and pork, but game, tripe and liver can also be used. A popular meal in
traditional Hungarian cuisine is a pörkölt made of tripe, called pacalpörkölt.
("Pacal" is the Hungarian word for tripe). It has a unique and very
distinguishable taste from other kinds of pörkölt, often being quite spicy.
Much of the quality of a pot of pörkölt is found in
the use of the very few ingredients. The spiciness and the taste of the paprika
powder used is very important to the taste. A simple Hungarian trick for making
good pörkölt is first frying the onions in lard or oil, before making anything
else. Then set aside the pot and immediately add paprika powder and the meat and
"stir-fry" - (this is the origin of the verb "pörkölni" - to roast). This way
the juices are kept inside. Water is added, the same volume as the meat. Pörkölt
should be simmered slowly in very little liquid. Flour should never be used to
thicken a Hungarian pörkölt.
In Hungary pörkölt is served with
tarhonya (big Hungarian pasta grains) or
galuska/nokedli as a side dish. Boiled
potato is also a common garnish, and pickles go with the dish nicely
counterbalancing the heavy stew with a touch of sour.