Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Szegediner Gulasch

Szegediner Gulasch is German comfort food all the way. I love making this on a cold winter's day. It just warms the heart and belly. I had never heard of it until my husband asked me to make it for him when we first got married. His aunt used to make this for him when he was growing up in Eastern Germany.

There are several speculations as to where this dish originated from. Some say that it was created in Hungary, named after a famous writer, József Székely - and not after the Hungarian city of Szeged - but according to Petra Foede, it is most likely from Vienna, Austria. I also came across an article that states this was an accidental discovery by Hungarian poet, Lazlo Szekely, in 1846. He met with his friend, Sandor Petofi, at a local pub or restaurant, where they were low on food. There was some leftover sauerkraut stew, along with some pork goulash, and according to several confirmed sources, Lazlo Szekely had asked the waiter to combine the two dishes and to reheat on the stove. And of course, a classic was born. Regardless, where this dish was invented, it's popularity grew rapidly throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and other parts of Europe. Germans had difficulty pronouncing the Hungarian name of this dish, and affectionately referred to it as Szegediner Golusch.

There are many versions of this classic dish, but the one I make is close to the original. It is a simple stew of pork and sauerkraut, it's easy to prepare, and it doesn't taste too spicy. I always use pork around the neck and shoulder area, which produces the most tender and flakiest meat; and I always use a mild sauerkraut, so it doesn't taste sour. If it is sour, then I rinse it under cold water or soak it for an hour or two before adding it to the stew. After all the ingredients have been added, then I transfer the pot to a smaller burner and simmer on the lowest flame possible for 50 minutes. Unlike most recipes, I let it then sit for half an hour after cooking is done, to let the meat rest. I slightly reheat it before serving.

Some tips to keep in mind when making this recipe (or other stews):

  • Taste the sauerkraut before using. If it tastes really sour, then rinse under cold water or soak for an hour or two before using.
  • The meat should be cut into 3-4 cm (about 1.5 to 2 inch) pieces, or you can have your butcher cut them up into stew-size pieces.
  • Always dry the meat before searing, so they brown better. Never crowd the pan, either. Otherwise, they will steam instead of fry. (A few nice tips I learned from Julia Child.) 
  • Always simmer on lowest heat possible. I always transfer the pot to the smallest burner on the stove.
  • You can simmer the stew a bit longer (1.5 to 2 hours), if you wish.
  • This dish tastes even better the next day, so plan a day ahead before making it.

The first time my MIL tried my Szegediner Gulasch, she closed her eyes and savoured the first bite. I knew instantly that my version was a keeper. :-)

My entire family loves this stew and it is really comforting on a cold winter's day. I hope you give this a try and let it become a family favourite, as well!


Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
Cooking Time: 50-90 minutes
Resting Time: 30 minutes

  • 750 to 1000 g Schweinenacken, cut into 2-3 cm pieces
  • 250 g (1 1/2 cups) finely diced onion
  • 1 glove of garlic, finely chopped or pressed through a garlic press
  • 200 to 250 g (3/4 cup) diced Speck or bacon
  • 500 g (1 lb) mild sauerkraut
  • 3 tbsp sweet or hungarian paprika
  • 700 ml (3 cups) hot chicken broth
  • 200 g (3/4 cup) sour cream or creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 tbsp fat, separated (EVOO, Butterschmalz, or neutral oil)
  • 1 kg (2lb) starchy potatoes
  1. Before starting, taste the sauerkraut. If it's too sour, then rinse it under cold water or you can soak it in water for an hour or two. Make sure meat is dried (it will brown much better).
  2. Heat 1 tbsp fat in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Lightly brown speck or bacon for 2-3 minutes and remove from pot. Next, turn up heat to hight and brown the meat pieces in batches, about 2-3 minutes per side. If necessary, add another tablespoon of fat as needed, so the meat doesn't stick to the bottom of the dutch oven.
  3. Turn heat down to medium and cook onions and garlic till soft and translucent, occasionally stirring so that it doesn't burn.
  4. Return meat and bacon to pan; add sauerkraut and sweet paprika and thoroughly stir to combine. Add the hot chicken broth and cover dutch oven with lid. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to the lowest setting, and gently simmer gulasch for 50 minutes (you can cook this up to 90 minutes, if you wish). Turn off heat and let rest for 30 minutes (the meat will become more tender). If required, reheat gulasch before serving.
  5. This goes well with boiled, salted potatoes.

Original recipe found on www.chefkoch.de

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