Last fall we had my lovely niece and her beaux for the weekend; Laura recently graduated from Western University with her degree in Law and she is articling in Toronto. I wanted to make a traditional Hungarian dinner because they had never had Hungarian food. I had intended to follow the recipe verbatim, but I just couldn’t help myself and did end up changing it a slight bit. The result was wonderful and JT thought I finally got it right, the way he remembered my dear Mom to make this tasty dish. The original recipe is from Ilona Horváth’s “The Traditional Hungarian Kitchen” cookbook, published originally in 1996.
Although this recipe takes 2-3 days to prepare, there is little kitchen time as most of it is in the marinade. The finishing is relatively easy. The original recipe was made entirely in a dutch oven but I’ve modified it to a slow cooker because I was not able to be at home the day we wanted to have it. The gravy is a tangy, creamy gravy balanced with the addition of caramelized sugar, but it is NOT SWEET. The julienned carrots and parsnips add texture and natural sweetness. The meat comes out fork tender and you really don’t even need a knife to eat it.
Vadas Hus; Hungarian Wild Meat revisited
Serves 4-6. This recipe takes 2-3 days to prepare.
- 800 g (1 3/4lb) eye of round or good stewing beef, whole
- 50 g bacon (pancetta works)
- 2 tbsp canola oil (the Hungarians would use lard here)
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 10 g (scant tablespoon) sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 3/4 Non-fat Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
- 100 g (about 1 cup) julienned carrots
- 100 g (about 1 cup) julienned parsnips
- 1-2 tbsp cold water
Ingredients for the marinade:
- 50 g (about 1/2 cup) grated carrots
- 50 g (about 1/2 cup) grated parsnips
- 1 small onion chopped roughly
- 1 L (about 4 cups) water
- 5-6 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- salt to taste
- 2 tsp white vinegar
- Tidy up the meat by removing any excess fat and membranes. Allow to come to room temperature.
- To prepare the marinade, cook the carrots, parsnips and onion in 1 L water with black pepper, bay leaves and salt until half cooked. Add the vinegar and cool to room temperature. Pour over the meat and refrigerate 2-3 days turning every so often. Remove the black peppercorns.
- Remove the meat from the marinade and dry completely, bring to room temperature. In a large dutch oven, heat the canola oil and cook the bacon and reserve, add the meat to the bacon oil and sear each side well.
- In the meantime, pre heat the slow cooker on high and add the original marinade, reserved bacon and bay leaves. Once it is warm add the seared beef and cook until beef is tender (3-4 hours) turning often.
- Remove the meat from the slow cooker and allow to rest. Discard the bay leaves. Strain the vegetables from the slow cooker (reserve the liquid) and add to the dutch oven, sprinkle with flour and fry to brown lightly. Slowly add the reserved marinade liquid and stir to thicken.
- In a small sauce pan, melt the sugar until it is golden in colour (not dark) and then mix with a couple of tablespoons of cold water, pour into the thickened vegetables in the dutch oven. Simmer for 5 minutes and add the remaining 2 tsp vinegar and Dijon mustard. Purée the entire gravy adding the yogurt or sour cream with an immersion blender until very smooth. You can run this through a fine sieve for a very smooth gravy. Keep warm.
- Boil the remaining julienned carrots and parsnips until cooked but there is still a slight bite to them. Strain and keep warm.
- Slice the meat into 1 cm or 1/2″ slices and plate over the puréed gravy, top with the julienne parsnips and carrots. Garnish with flat leaf parsley.
- Serve with Hungarian Bread Dumplings.