A few days ago I looked at my wordpress stats page and noticed that someone from the Czech Republic had visited my blog. That lead to a draft blog post where I wondered why no-one from Hungary had ever visited me. I never did complete that post and now I never will because…. ta dah! Hungary has arrived at last. 😀
If you look very, very closely you may see a tiny dot on the eastern end of Europe. That is Hungary.
I was born there a very, very long time ago and I still have some first cousins living there – hi Kati and Zoli!
To be honest I feel far more Aussie than Hungarian but like most other New Australians in this multi-cultural society of ours there are aspects of my ‘roots’ that I still cling to – such as food.
I cook in a variety of styles and flavours including French, Italian, Anglo-Indian and Asian, however when I cook comfort foods they are almost always recipes from my childhood.
For those who have never had traditional Hungarian food the mix of flavours may be a little surprising. We love strong, rich flavours and ‘dry’ meat dishes such as schnitzel or pork chops will often be accompanied by a hot fruit sauce such as apple or morello cherry. However we don’t just dab a spoonful of sauce on the plate as a kind of condiment, we ladle it on and eat it as a major component of the dish. Usually with a spoon!
One of my favourite dishes is pork braised with garlic and served with morello cherry sauce. Nothing else. No potatoes, no rice, no pasta. Just those two strong, competing flavours. Both my mother and my grandmother made the same dish in much the same way so I know the following recipe is pretty authentic.
Pork braised with garlic.
Lightly brown 4 thick slices of pork neck [may be called pork scotch fillet by some butchers] in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil. [Lard would be more authentic but not so good for your heart].
Reduce the heat to low, add 3 large cloves of garlic [crushed] and just enough water to stop the meat from burning. Cover with a lid and cook gently, topping up the water as necessary until the meat it tender. Do not add salt!
Morello cherry sauce.
Morello cherries are sour and come preserved in a sweetened syrup. Here in Australia you can find glass jars of Morello cherries in the preserved fruit aisle of most supermarkets next to tinned peaches and pears. If you’ve seen them and wondered what they were, now you know.
While the meat is braising pour one jar of Morello cherries into a small saucepan, syrup and all. Add about 3 tablespoons of sugar and bring to the boil. [The juice surrounding the cherries is a little bit sweet already but you will need the extra sugar to stop the cream from curdling at the end!]
Mix about 1 heaped tablespoon of cornstarch in a small bowl with 3-4 tablespoons of cold water and stir until the cornstarch mix becomes a thin paste.
When the cherries have come to the boil add the cornstarch and stir energetically so you don’t get lumps. Then keep on stirring until the liquid clears and the sauce starts to thicken. Take the pot off the heat and add just enough fresh cream to make the sauce change to a creamy burgundy colour.
To plate up simply arrange two slices of meat on the side of each plate and then ladle the sauce onto the opposite side of the plate. The sauce will flow around the meat so don’t expect to ever see this dish on Masterchef! This is homecooking where flavour is everything and aesthetics don’t count!
Eat the meat and the sauce together because the flavours are meant to combine. Jó étvágyat kívánok! Bon Appetit! Enjoy!