Crunchy and soft and flavorful meatballs often accompany vegetable stews in Hungary, be it a green pea stew, a potato stew, a summer squash stew, or a spinach stew.
Yield: 8-10 pieces; Total time: 30 minutes
350 grams (¾ pound) pork shoulder, finely ground
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, for sautéing onion and garlic
2 cups vegetable oil, for frying meatballs
1 large egg
1 onion, minced and sauteed
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced, and sauteed
¾ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 bread roll (or a sliced bread) soaked in milk then squeezed dry
1 tablespoon breadcrumbs, into meatball
½ cup breadcrumbs, to roll meatballs
Step 1: Heat three tablespoons oil in a pan over medium-high, then add minced onion and sauté until translucent, about 5-6 minutes. Then add minced garlic and sauté for 1 more minute. Turn off heat.
Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine ground meat, egg, breadcrumbs (1 tablespoon), soaked bread roll, salt, pepper, paprika, ground caraway seeds, and the sautéd onion-garlic mixture. Mix very thoroughly with hand so that all ingredients disperse evenly, then form with wet hands round and flat meatballs, about 7 cm by 2 cm (2 ¾ by 1 inch). Add the breadcrumbs into a shallow bowl, then lightly coat the meatballs in breadcrumbs.
Step 3: Heat 2 cups oil in a large pan over medium-high to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit), then carefully slide meatballs into the hot oil. Fry until a crispy, golden-brown crust develops, about 3 minutes each side. Take care not to overcrowd the pan (depending on its size, you may have to do two or three batches). When ready, transfer meatballs to a container lined with paper towel to soak up extra oil and let them cool for 5 minutes.
Step 4: Serve meatballs atop vegetable stews, for example potato stew, spinach stew, or summer squash stew.
Words of advice
The temparature of the frying oil will drop after you place into it the meatballs; try to keep it around 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit) — an instant-read thermometer is of great help here.
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I created these recipes with the help of nearly a dozen historical Hungarian cookbooks, adjusting ingredients, cooking times, and methods to reflect my own preferences and tastes of the current day. Do you have any feedback? Please let me know!