How to Use My Hungarian Spice Blend

 

Paprika is practically the national spice of Hungary, which is why the Hungarians recognize 8 distinct grades of it. (By constrast, Spain – another paprika-loving nation – has 4.)

For my blend, I selected a mid-field paprika, which means it fits between piquant and sweet, a touch to the sweet side; then I added enough black and cayenne peppers to pull it slightly to the spicy side for a rich, complex taste that yet remains subtle enough to support, not dominate, the natural flavors of meats and vegetables. 

You can use it with all of your poultry, fish, beef, and vegetable stew dishes for a mid-European twist. Here are some of my own favorites.

Easy Hungarian Chicken Thighs

Pair these delicious chicken thighs with a fresh green salad!

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 packet Hungarian Spice Blend
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 whole tomatoes, peeled
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 1½ cup water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions

1. Sauté onion in butter until tender.

2. Add Hungarian Spice Blend and stir. Add  diced green pepper, then add chicken and stir to coat all sides of the chicken.

3. Sauté 15 minutes to brown. Add the water, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked, about 45 minutes.

4. Remove chicken, set aside.

5. Mix sour cream and ¼ cup water. Add flour and whisk smooth. Add to liquid from cooking the chicken, stirring constantly until thick.

 6. Return chicken to the pot. Heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

Delicious Hungarian Pork Stew

This simple and easy-to-make pork dish comes with a robust flavor!

Ingredients

  • 5 slices bacon, diced
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 packets Hungarian Spice Blend
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 5 lbs boneless pork chops
  • 1 lg yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 (14 oz) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 2 cups sour cream
  • 2 (6 oz) packages wide egg noodles

Directions

1. In a large skillet cook the diced bacon on medium-high heat until browned; drain and save the drippings.

2. Add the onions to the bacon and cook until the onion is translucent.

3. Remove skillet from the heat and stir in the 2 packages of my Hungarian Spice Blend. Transfer the mixture to a large stockpot.

4. Using the skillet, without cleaning it, heat 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings in the skillet on medium-high. Cook the pork chops until evenly browned on both sides, adding bacon drippings as needed.

5. Transfer pork chops to a cutting board, blot off the excess oil, trim the fat, and cube the meat. Then add it to the stockpot.

6. Using the skillet, heat a couple teaspoons bacon drippings on medium. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring constantly, until they are softened and fragrant. Drain them on paper towel, then add them to the stock pot.

7. Pour the 2 cans of diced tomato and beef broth to the stockpot and place the pot on a medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook until it begins to thicken, stirring occasionally – about 1½ hours.

8. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream.

 

Hungary-Inspired Egg and Potato Casserole

I found this flavorful recipe online, shared by a woman who remembered her in-laws making it for Lent. I’ve adjusted the seasoning more to my own liking. It’s great as a light summer evening dish, or as a savory contribution to brunch. Serve warm or cold.

Ingredients

  • 8 eggs
  • 6 potatoes
  • 1 tbsp Hungarian Spice Blend
  • salt to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup butter
  • 2 cups sour cream

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350° F.

2. In a large pan, place eggs in enough cold water to cover. Bring water to a boil, then immediately remove the pan from heat, cover with pan lid, and let eggs cook for 15 minutes. Then remove, cool, shell, and slice eggs into rounds.

3. At the same time, bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the potatoes, and cook about 15 minutes, until the potatoes are tender but still firm. Drain, cool, and slice into rounds.

4. Starting with potatoes, lay out 3 layers of potato and 2 of eggs in a 9x13 casserole dish. Sprinkle each layer of eggs with 1 tsp of my Hungarian Spice Blend. (Start and end with a layer of potatoes. If you don’t have enough potato medallions, make the bottom layer egg and only use 2 layers of each potatoes and eggs.) Optionally, lightly salt each egg layer.

5. Using a small saucepan, melt the butter and sour cream over low heat. Immediately pour over the potatoes. Top with a sprinkling of the Hungarian Spice Blend.

6. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Flavor-Filled Hungarian Beef Brisket

This is my take on one family’s traditional Hungarian brisket recipe. Sure, it marinates overnight and cooks for 4 hours, but it’s got lots of bacon! And it tastes great, too!

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs beef brisket
  • 2 tbsp Hungarian Spice Blend
  • 2 lbs sliced bacon
  • 5 cups cold brewed coffee
  • ¼ cup salt
  • 1 cup butter
  • ½ cup minced garlic
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 1 lb fatback, sliced into small rectangles
  • 2 sweet potatoes, quartered

Directions

1. Dust the brisket in my Hungarian Spice Blend, then completely wrap it in the bacon.

2. Dissolve the salt in the coffee.

3. Set the brisket in a large glass baking dish. Pour the cold coffee-salt brine over the meat, cover, and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight.

4. In a saucepan, combine the butter and minced garlic over low heat, stirring occasionally until the butter has melted and the garlic has turned golden brown.

5. Spread all of the shortening onto the inside of a roasting pan.

6. Place the brisket in the pan; add 1 cup of the coffee-salt marinade. Lay triangles of fatback over the roast. Place the sweet potatoes around the meat in the roasting pan.

7. Pour the garlic-butter mix over the brisket and the sweet potatoes. Let stand 1 hour.

8. Pre-heat the oven to 325° F. Cover the roasting pan with aluminum foil. Bake 4 hours, and until the internal temperature of the roast measures 145° F. Remove from oven.

9. Let the meat rest 10 minutes before slicing. Slice across the grain.

Au Jus

While the roast rests, make a dipping au jus by stirring together

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2½ tbl prepared horseradish

in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat for ½ hour, then pour into a serving bowl.