Tuesday 31 January 2012

Oxtail Pörkölt

I've been seeing a lot of goulash recipes around lately. I suppose it is the sort of chilly, damp weather where big pots of slow-cooked meats in richly flavoured sauces are appealing. I was particularly taken by James Ramsden's oxtail goulash recipe. There was just the teensiest problem though. I have a friend of Estonian heritage who has lived in Hungary and has always been quite adamant that what we call goulash is not goulash at all, but porkolt. Porkolt is thicker than the soupier goulash; it's a very simple slow-cooked stew with few ingredients.

Apparently it is quite important to the final flavour to cook the onions initially in lard. I didn't have any lard, so I used some beef dripping left from a rather good roast. The flavour of my porkolt really was exceptionally rich, so I will put that down to the dripping.

The word porkolt apparently means "roasted". The stew gets its character from the meat being well-browned in the onions and paprika before liquid is added.

My apologies to your Hungarian grandmother if this isn't how she did it. It tasted good and it had a very old-fashioned sort of flavour, so I am hoping it isn't too desperately inauthentic.

Oxtail Porkolt (makes about 3 portions)

2 tbs lard or beef dripping (or oil)
3 large onions, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 kg oxtail
2 tbs sweet paprika
1 tbs hot smoked paprika
1-2 red peppers, diced (I only had one but 2 would have been better)
1 can chopped tomatoes
500ml beef stock

Melt the beef dripping in a large oven-proof saucepan or casserole (I used my Le Creuset dutch oven, of course), then add the onions and cook gently until translucent. Increase the heat and add the garlic and the pieces of oxtail. When the oxtail starts to take colour, sprinkle over both paprikas and cook until the meat starts to get bit of a crust on it from the paprika. Add the diced peppers, tomatoes and beef stock, stirring well to scrape up the toasty bits from the bottom of the casserole. Bring to the boil, then put the lid on and cook in a low oven for about 4 hours, having a look about once an hour to make sure it isn't getting dry.

For about the last half hour, if there is still a lot of sauce, you might want to take the lid off to let it reduce to a really thick gravy.

Serve with buttered noodles or spatzle.

There was a little bit of intensely-flavoured, jellied sauce and a couple of bits of meat left after we'd stuffed ourselves silly, so I used it to fill some rounds of pastry for little fried empanadas for lunch.


Joanne said...

Well I can't tell you the difference between goulash or porkolt...nor have I ever even tasted oxtail! But I CAN say that this looks very comforting!

James B said...

Goulash (or Porkolt) is something i Love, but have never made myself before. It's on the list of thigs to do, but jest not got round to it. Must pull my finger out....

I agree with Joanne, it looks very comforting!

Alicia Foodycat said...

Joanne - I can see that this really is not your thing! But the flavours are excellent.

James - you should do it! Very simple, just takes a bit of time.


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