Foodie Fridays: Eastern Bloc Party…. Hungarian Style

On today’s menu: Hungarian beef goulash, potato dumplings (also known as strapacka or dodole) and poached peach halves with mascarpone.

I remember growing up eating this dish my dad would make called goulash. I loved it as a kid. And then I grew up and realized it wasn’t really goulash at all. It was a poor man’s version of goulash.

My dad’s version was little more than a casserole style concoction of elbow macaroni, tomato sauce and ground beef with corn mixed in.

So I took it upon myself to learn what traditional Hungarian goulash was. And I learned to make it the traditional way.

It does, in fact, use a tomato based sauce and is served over noodles. Egg noodles are fairly common and since this is a very simple dish, that’s what I went with. And you can use any meat, but beef is a sort of delicacy in most underdeveloped and poor countries like Hungary.

Instead of ground beef, I used an arm roast that I roasted in the oven on very low heat for several hours and then in a crock pot for a few more. And with a cut like arm roast, it takes quite a while to get it tender. I seasoned it with paprika (a spice you will see is very common in Hungarian cuisine and therefore a spice I used throughout the entire meal) as well as several other seasonings including my alderwood smoked salt I used in the salmon patties in last week’s foodie Friday.

I used the juices from the beef along with some worcestershire sauce and tomatoes as the base for the sauce. I also seasoned that with several other herbs and spices including more paprika and thickened it up with flour.

That gets served over some basic egg noodles with the beef on top.

The dodole was very simple. I boiled some potatoes and then mashed them up. I seasoned them with salt, paprika and other herbs. Starting with a small ball of cream cheese, I surrounded it with potato and then rolled it in flour. It gets boiled only for a few minutes. Boil it too long and it disintegrates in the water.

And finally the peach halves, poached long enough to just soften the peach without making it so mushy it falls apart. Top it with some mascarpone cheese and voila! you have a delicious poached peach for dessert.

The cheapest available ingredients typically get used in Hungarian cooking because, well, it is poor man’s food. Traditionally, neither cream cheese nor mascarpone are used for these dishes. In fact, goat cheese is most often used. But there’s no need to scrimp when more luxurious ingredients are available. Either way, it’s delicious. Jó étvágyat!

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