Pork rice pilaf (Bácskai rizses hús)

This dish comes from Hungary’s southern neighbor, Serbia, based on a casserole called djuvec. It’s essentially a rich rice pilaf studded with bits of stewed pork. Another way to think of it: toss your leftover pork goulash with rice. The bácskai rizses hús isn’t complete without a side of pickles and some recipes also call for a drizzle of grated cheese on top.

Ingredients

Yield: 4-5 servings; Total time: 1 ½ hour

  • 600 grams (1 ⅓ pounds) boneless pork shoulder, cut into 1 ½ cm (⅔ inch) cubes

  • 350 grams (1 ¾ cups) long-grain rice, rinsed

  • 1 tablespoon lard (if you don’t have any, you can render pork belly or bacon fat or use vegetable oil)

  • 1 onion, minced

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds

  • 3 pinches ground pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

  • 1 ripe medium tomato, 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)

  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped

  • 3 cups water or chicken broth

  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • Optional: 250 grams (1 cup) mild-tasting cheese, grated

Directions

  • Step 1: Heat lard or oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high, then add minced onion and sauté until translucent, about 6-8 minutes.

  • Step 2: Add pork and sear until it’s lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes.

  • Step 3: Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in paprika, salt, freshly ground pepper, caraway seeds, minced garlic, and the small bits of tomato and yellow pepper. Add ½ cup water or chicken broth to almost cover the meat, place lid on pot and let it simmer for about 1 hour, until pork is tender.

  • Step 4: When meat is almost done, add uncooked rice to the pot, combine with meat and cover with 3 cups water or broth. Bring pot to a bare simmer and cook until rice is tender but not mushy, about 20 minutes. If the rice absorbed all liquid, add a bit more. Then turn off heat and let rice rest for 10 minutes.

  • Step 5: Combine with butter and chopped parsley, taste for salt and pepper, and serve the bácskai rizses hús with a side of pickled vegetables.

Words of advice

You can top the dish with a drizzle of grated cheese on top for an additional flavor boost.

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.