This hearty Hungarian stew has a nomadic origin: the Magyars, nomadic horsemen from the steppes, cooked and dried their meat and reconstituted it by stewing it in water in soup kettle, the bogracs, when they pitched camp.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 1.5 hours
1 kg stewing beef
1 thick slab of streaky bacon, cubed (optional)
3 large potatoes
250 g white onions
50 g / 3 tablespoons paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1.5 to 2 litres of water
Cut the meat into approximately 2x2 cm cubes. Fry the bacon in a deep, heavy pot (a dutch oven is fine). Chop the onions finely and fry gently in the bacon fat. When golden, remove from the pot and add the cubed beef. Continue frying until the cubes are nicely browned, then add the onions and pour in the water. Raise the heat and when it boils, add the salt and half the paprika. Do not remove the foam; over time, it will clear out. Put on a lid, turn the heat down and simmer the stew for about one hour, until the meat is almost tender. Peel and cut the potatoes about the same size as the meat cubes and add them to the stew. Cook for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are soft. Add the other half of the paprika for the last few minutes to give the stew a more beautiful colour.
For a thicker stew, remove the lid and let the liquid reduce. Don’t add any spice, besides possibly caraway seeds.
Notes: Using several different cuts of meat is best for this dish: sirloin, flank, neck, shoulder, brisket, etc... Fresh peppers or tomatoes can also be added at the end of the cooking. Traditionally, dumplings, noodles or fresh white bread are served with the stew, along with a full-bodied red wine. No sour cream is used with this dish.