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Hungarian stew with red wine

Get a large pot ready because this won't be a short service; it will take hours of simmering on the stove!


A good beef stew is always a treat, which is why it’s worth cooking a big batch of it and freezing some of it – this way, you can take it out anytime you crave it. Be sure to choose a slightly fattier cut of meat, like beef shin or chuck, as that’s what makes the dish really juicy. Red wine is the key ingredient in this beef stew.

How to make Hungarian stew – step by step

On a beautiful summer day, you can prepare this classic dish in Hungarian style: outdoors in a campfire cooking kettle pot or, in case of bad weather, in your kitchen as well.

Ingredients for 8 people

  • 4.4 lbs (2 kg) beef
  • 5-6 onions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 5.3 oz (15 dkg) Hungarian sweet paprika powder
  • 2 cups (0.5 liters) dry red wine
  • 2 bell peppers
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 7 oz (20 dkg) lard or cooking fat
  • salt, oil

Preparation time: 4 hours

Step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients

  • Dice the onions.
  • Crush the garlic cloves.
  • Dice the bell peppers and tomatoes.
  • Cut the beef into bite-sized pieces.

Step 2: Sauté the Onions

  • In a large pot, heat the lard or cooking fat over medium heat.
  • Add the diced onions to the pot and sauté them until they become translucent.

Step 3: Brown the Beef

  • Add the diced beef to the pot with the sautéed onions.
  • Let the beef brown for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 4: Season the Stew

  • Remove the pot from the heat temporarily.
  • Add the Hungarian sweet paprika powder, crushed garlic, and caraway seeds to the beef and onions.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Mix everything thoroughly.

Step 5: Simmer the Stew

  • Place the pot back on the stove over medium heat.
  • Pour enough water into the pot to cover the meat completely.
  • Let the stew simmer, stirring occasionally.
  • If the water reduces significantly during cooking, add more water as needed.

Step 6: Add Bell Peppers and Tomatoes

  • After about an hour to an hour and a half of simmering, add the diced bell peppers and tomatoes to the pot.

Step 7: Adjust Seasoning

  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Step 8: Continue Simmering

  • Continue to simmer the stew slowly until the meat becomes tender and reaches your desired consistency.

Step 9: Add Red Wine

  • Only at the very end of the cooking process, add the dry red wine to the stew.
  • This step is crucial, as adding the wine earlier could alter the flavor.
Hungarian stew served

Step 10: Serve and Enjoy

  • Once the beef stew is ready, serve it on its own, with bread, or alongside Hungarian dumplings for a delicious and comforting meal.

Enjoy your Classic Hungarian Beef Stew with Red Wine!

What is the difference between Hungarian goulash and Hungarian stew?

Hungarian Goulash and Hungarian Stew are both traditional Hungarian dishes, but they have some differences in terms of ingredients, cooking methods, and consistency.

  • Ingredients: Hungarian Goulash primarily consists of tender beef, onions, and paprika as the main flavoring agent. Other common ingredients may include tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes. Hungarian Stew, also known as “Pörkölt” in Hungarian, is a meat stew that can be made with various types of meat, such as beef, pork, chicken, or lamb. The choice of meat may vary based on personal preference.
  • Seasoning: The key spice that gives Hungarian Goulash its distinctive flavor is Hungarian sweet paprika, which adds a rich and slightly sweet taste. Caraway seeds and sometimes garlic are also used for seasoning. Like Hungarian Goulash, Hungarian Stew also uses Hungarian sweet paprika for its distinct flavor, but additional spices and herbs may be used, depending on the recipe and regional variations.
  • Cooking Method: Goulash is typically cooked in a single pot or a stew pot, with the beef and vegetables simmered together in liquid (often water or beef broth) until the meat is tender and the flavors meld. Hungarian Stew is cooked in a similar way to Goulash, usually in a pot, but the main difference lies in the cooking time. Pörkölt is typically cooked for a longer period, allowing the meat to become more tender and the flavors to develop further.
  • Consistency: Hungarian Goulash has a soup-like consistency, with a thin and flavorful broth, making it closer to a hearty soup rather than a thick and meaty stew. Hungarian Stew has a thicker consistency compared to Hungarian Goulash. The sauce is richer and clings to the meat, creating a heartier and more substantial dish.

In summary, the main differences between Hungarian Goulash and Hungarian Stew lie in their ingredients, seasoning, cooking time, and consistency. Goulash is a paprika-flavored beef and vegetable soup or stew, while Hungarian Stew (Pörkölt) is a meat stew with a thicker sauce and can be made with various types of meat. Both dishes are delicious and cherished parts of Hungarian cuisine, each offering a unique taste and culinary experience. If you want to make Hungarian goulash, we have an excellent recipe for that too!

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