Hungarian Style Beef Stew
The first time I made this recipe from my friend Szabi, I thought I was making goulash. I probably cooked it another two three times before I found out the truth. (You can also read the full story here.) In Hungarian, it’s called marhapörkölt or simply put, beef stew. The core ingredients are beef, bell peppers, onions and the omnipresent Hungarian magic ingredient, paprika. It’s a very simple recipe, but you need to have patience and let it cook at very slow fire, for 3-4 hours. So plan it for the weekend, and then you can freeze it for a few weeks.
2 onions finely chopped
3 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 kg beef meat (I usually buy pre-cut stewing beef from my butcher but you can find more details about how to choose the right cut here)
2-3 large red bell peppers chopped into cubes
2-3 large tommatoes chopped into cubes
2-3 teaspoons of salt
1 teaspoon pepper
300 ml red wine
You can also find the ingredients displayed visually below. For me, the mise-en-place is really important and I try not to start anything before the ingredients are prepared and all the rest back in the cupboards. This is essential in order to avoid an after-cooking explosion-like look of your kitchen.
Heat some sun flower oil in a large pot. Chop the onions and let them sweat in the covered pot, at the lowest fire, for as long as you can. This is a tip I learned from Samin Nosrat’s book, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat. If you let the onions sweat longer, the pot dish will have a lot more flavour.
Take the pot off the fire and add 3 teaspoons of paprika powder. You should keep the pot off the fire, so the paprika doesn’t burn. Then add the meat, the chopped bell peppers and tomatoes, salt and pepper. Let it slowly cook for at least two hours and do not add any water. The meat and the vegetables will leave enough liquid so they can cook in their own juices.
When the stew is reduced (after a couple of hours), add the red wine and let it cook again for another hour or two, until it reduces and you’re happy with the amount of sauce you have. Some people prefer to have more sauce, I like it with less, and usually keep the meat longer on the stove. I really like the stews where the meat is so tender that it almost falls apart.
You can serve it with rice, spätzle or just with good bread and add some sour cream and parsley on top if you want. I will soon post a great spätzle recipe that I tested several times. That combination is my definitive favourite!