Porkolt (Beef or Pork Gulyas)

Porkolt (Pork or Beef Gulyas)

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Porkolt is one of the basic Hungarian dishes, always satisfying and memorable.  The paprika flavor is basically the only spice, yet it has a very comforting aroma.  It is also very easy to prepare.  Once the onions have been chopped and the meat cubed, just let it simmer until tender.

I just prepared it for a Hungarian noon meal (Hungarians eat their big meal at noon),  starting at about 9:00 a.m., and the whole meal (including a soup) was finished before noon.  Doesn’t get much easier.

Here is the recipe (feeds about 6-8):

4-5 onions, chopped

2-3 lbs beef or pork, cubed

2-4 tsps paprika


Slice of bell pepper

Ground caraway (about 1 tsp)

I/2 tomato or about a tablespoon of ketchup


Start with the onions.



Peel and cut the onions into quarters or so for chopping in the processor.  Yes, your eyes will sting a bit.  Usually, this is two batches for the processor.


I pulse about 10 pulses.  Do not overchop or you will just get a pulp.


Place about 3 T oil in a pot, and heat the oil.  Add onions when oil is hot.


This is a 5 qt. pot.

This is the most important part, central to most Hungarian dishes.  Saute the onions for about 20-30 minutes.  Do not let them brown, so stir frequently.  If they start to stick, add about ½ cup water (I usually rinse the rest of the onions out of the processor bowl to do this).  The onions will start to be translucent, and lose the whiteness.  It is almost like a jam when done.  This is what makes the broth rich.  Otherwise you just have onions floating in the water. Do not skimp on the time here.  The rest is easy after this.

Before adding the meat to the onions, turn the heat to high.  Stir in the meat and brown it.  Along with the onions in the same pot, the meat just browns slightly, but do this for a few minutes.  Alternatively, you can remove the onions from the pot, brown the meat, then return the onions. Either way,  brown the meat just a couple of minutes.


Get the paprika ready!


Good paprika has a bright red color and has a very fragrant, pleasant aroma.  This is the sweet variety, not the hot kind!

Cover meat with water and add paprika.


I don’t like an anemic looking broth, so I usually add a bit more.


Add the caraway, bell pepper, and about a tsp of salt.  It will need more salt at the end.


Add the tomato or ketchup.


Cover and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, until meat is tender.  You can leave the lid off for the last 10 minutes or so to let the broth cook down just a bit.  Adjust seasonings–it should have a very slight hint of the caraway.  Use salt or Vegeta (Hungarian seasoning) to bring out flavor. Serve over rice or nokedli, (homemade noodles).



These are easier to make if you have a noodle cutter, agadget that looks something like acheese grater. There are various shapes and sizes of these.I have seen them on the web at Hungarianspecialty stores and they are not cheap.However, I bought one called a Chinese noodle maker at Cost Plus for acouple dollars a few years ago.It works great. If you don’t have one, a paring knife and small cutting board works just as well (although it takes longer).

1 egg plus 2 yolks (the whites make the dumplings tough)

2 cups flour(Wondra flour is much easier to blend with eggs)

salt, 1/2 tsp

If you are lucky enough to have a Kitchen Aid mixer, by all means let it do the work. Put all of the ingredients in the bowl together and using the dough hook, beat until the dough is very smooth and pulls away from the bowl. Add enough water to make a smooth, runny dough. Continue as below.

Traditional method:

Combine flour and eggs in a mixing bowl. Add enough water to make the mixture into adough.Beat until smooth, using astroke that beats through the middle of the mixture against the side of thebowl.When the dough is completelysmooth, (this takes awhile), it leavesthe sides of the bowl clean as you beat and sort of makes airy noises.Place the dough into the noodle gadget overthe boiling water and using the slide or the knife, quickly extrude thedumplings into the pot.If you don’thave the gadget, place the dough on a cutting board over the boiling water andusing a small sharp paring knife, cut the dough into pieces about the size ofan almond and quickly push each piece off the cutting board into the pot. Whenthe dough is completely used up, stir the dumplings to keep them from sticking together. Continue to boil until they all rise to the top do not overcook. Drain, stir in a small amount of oil to keep them from sticking together until serving. Season with salt.


Noodle (dumpling) cutter