While some consider it to be low-brow, don’t look down your nose at this bold potato dish that has nourished generations of Hungarians. The simple ingredients belie the nicely layered flavors owing to the szalonna, the paprika sausages, and the sliced frankfurters.
Yield: 4-5 servings; Total time: 30 minutes
1 kilo (2 pounds) potatoes, cut lengthwise
100 grams (¼ pound) smoked pork belly or bacon, cut into small cubes, about 1 cm (½ inch) long. If using smoked pork belly, remove skin.
250 grams (½ pound) smoked paprika sausage, sliced thin
4 frankfurters, cut into rings
2 cups water (or stock)
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
2 pinches ground pepper
2 ripe medium tomatoes, peeled and cut into very small pieces (or puréed into smooth paste using an immersion blender)
1 Hungarian wax pepper or yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into very small pieces (or puréed into smooth paste using an immersion blender)
Pickles for the side
Step 1: Place pork belly cubes and sliced sausages in a large pot and fry them in their own fat on medium until nicely crisped-up, about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Add onions to the pot and sauté in the hot pork fat until translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Then stir in paprika, caraway seeds, salt, pepper, minced garlic, and the small bits of tomato and yellow pepper and cook the mixture at a simmer for 5 minutes.
Step 3: Add potatoes and 2 cups of water or stock (liquid should almost cover potatoes), place lid on pot and let it simmer until potatoes are soft but not mushy, about 15-20 minutes.
Step 4: Add the frankfurter slices and continue cooking for 2 minutes, then turn off heat.
Step 5: Taste for salt and add some if needed. Serve the paprika potatoes in shallow bowls with a side of pickles.
Words of advice
There’s usually no need to thicken this stew since the potato starch leaches out into the liquid and condenses it. But if the stew turns out too watery, cook it down for a few more minutes (with the lid off) until some water evaporates.
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.