Everyone called my maternal grandmother 'Anyu'--the Hungarian word for 'Mom.' She was a fabulous cook, her skills honed first as the eldest daughter in a motherless household, and later in the restaurant she and my grandfather owned.
This rich, meaty stew was often served as a special birthday dinner, accompanied by rice and a green salad tossed with an Austrian-style sweet-and-sour vinaigrette. And of course, followed by some variety of torte, depending on how the spirit moved her. We honor her memory every time I make this dish.
Pörkölt is delicious on the day it's made, but my family believe it's even better on the second or third day, when the flavors have had time to mingle. It also freezes well. —Windischgirl
4-6 with leftovers
Boneless stew meat; Anyu would use some combination of beef and pork
Medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch dice
Small clove garlic, crushed
1 1/2 tablespoons
Hungarian sweet paprika
Hungarian hot paprika, or to taste
Green pepper, cored, seeded, and sliced into julienne strips
Trim the meat and cut into 1-inch cubes. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Brown the meat in batches, removing each batch to a plate before adding the next batch; the meat will not be cooked through. Add additional oil as needed.
Once the meat is browned, add a bit more oil and sauté the onion, garlic, and pepper with a pinch of salt. Turn down the heat as you want the vegetables to soften but not brown.
When the vegetables are soft, stir in the paprikas and caraway and heat to release the flavors. This only takes 30 seconds, as paprika burns easily. Add the tomatoes all at once, then the browned meat with whatever juices have collected on the plate.
Stir well to combine. Add 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to taste, stir, then cover tightly. Turn the heat to low and let the pörkölt simmer slowly. Stir occasionally; if the stew seems dry, add a few tablespoons of water. Let it cook for 45-60 minutes, or until the meat is tender, and the vegetables have cooked down into a sauce.
Pörkölt is best made a day or two in advance, and then gently reheated to serve. Spoon it over steamed rice or spatzle.
Note: I have successfully doubled and tripled the recipe to cook in a slow cooker. The sauce will be thinner, but can be thickened with a beurre manie, or else simmered on the stovetop to concentrate, once the meat has been removed. The thickened sauce can then be added back to the meat for its R&R in the fridge.
Pörkölt also freezes well.