Despite not being well known internationally, pork porkolt or pörkölt (sometimes referred to as pork goulash) is one of the most popular dishes in Hungarian cuisine.
It is basically a pork stew, usually made from the shoulder or leg of pork, with lots of the Hungarian spice paprika and onions. The gravy is formed by cooking chopped onions and meat slowly with paprika. The only other thing you need is salt.
Porkolt can be made from different types of meat – beef, pork, chicken – or even mushrooms. But when talking about porkolt in general, we usually refer to pork porkolt.
Porkolt recipe (pork pörkölt)
Cube the meat into 1 inch pieces.
I find the best cut for porkolt is pork shoulder. Leg of pork is also widely used in Hungary. Both will result in a great, delicious porkolt.
- Prepare your vegetables: finely chop 2 onions, dice 1 tomato and 1 green pepper.
Sautée the onions over high heat in a large pot with 5 tablespoons of oil or goose/lard/pork fat.
In traditional Hungarian porkolt, the onions are sauteed over high heat until lightly golden. This is important for getting the right flavor out of the onions. See my tips for making a perfect porkolt below this recipe.
There are health-based debates nowadays about what kind of fat to use: vegetable oil or animal fat. You can use vegetable oil if you wish, but this dish will be more authentic when using good quality fat, esp. goose or duck fat. So I suggest you try it.
Once golden, take your onions off the stove. Stir in paprika.
To make the best goulash, you’ll definitely need high quality, preferably Hungarian paprika. Check out Bende Hungarian Paprika Powder Sweet 8oz/226g.
Don’t be afraid of the quantity of paprika. I know it seems like a lot, but this is how original Hungarian porkolt is made. And don’t forget, we are making a stew where the only spice is paprika, so we need to use a lot if it.
- Add the meat, and sear over medium-high heat for about 6-7 minutes, stirring regularly. You want is your meat to be seared on each side and to release some of its liquids.
Add diced tomatoes, green peppers, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes.
Note that we still haven’t added any liquid to our porkolt up to this point, it has been seared and cooked in its own juices.
- Now its time to add some water. You don’t need to completely cover the meat, 3 ounces or 100 ml will do.
- Continue cooking your porkolt over low heat, partly covered with a lid.
- The pork porkolt will be done when the meat is tender. This takes usually about 75-90 minutes, depending on the cut of your meat. Cook over low heat, partly covered. Stir every 15 minutes and check the liquid. Add some water – no more than 1 1/2 ounces or 50 ml at a time – only if all the liquid has completely evaporated. Usually one cup or 250 ml of water is needed in total.
- Once the meat is cooked, let all the liquid evaporate. Add 3 ounces or 100 ml of water, bring it to a boil, and your pork porkolt is ready.
The secrets of a perfect pork porkolt
There are 3 simple secrets to making a perfect pork porkolt.
- You need to sautee your onions over high heat, until golden brown.
- You need to use a lot of good quality Hungarian paprika. This gives your porkolt its distinctive flavor, and helps form the gravy.
- Once liquid is added, cook your porkolt over low heat. Only add a little water at a time.
How to serve pork porkolt?
Pork porkolt is always served warm. You ahould serve it right away, but it also stores well in the fridge for several days. You can freeze it for up to several months. Some say it’s even better when it’s reheated.
Serve over pasta (in Hungary tarhonya and galuska/nokedli are the most popular – recipes soon), boiled potatoes, or rice.
Pork porkolt in Hungarian: sertéspörkölt or sometimes simply pörkölt