Székely gulyás

For me this is real comfort food and I prepare it pretty frequently. Try it and you probably will, too. This must be one of the most misnamed recipes in all of cuisine. The name, székely gulyás, pronounced seh-key goo-yahsh (sort of) means “gypsy goulash” in Hungarian. Only it probably isn’t a gypsy recipe and it’s not a goulash. It’s technically a pork pörkölt with sauerkraut and sour cream. Even people who don’t like either pork or kraut will like this. Last weekend I prepared it for my brother-in-law who’s a Californian and certainly didn’t grow up with Central European food. After eying it suspiciously and tasting it gingerly he wolfed it down like he’d never seen food before.

Székely gulyás

Serves 4

1 lb. pork cutlets, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. cooking oil
3 Tbsp. Hungarian paprika
½ tsp. salt
Black pepper
¼ tsp. ground marjoram
1 lb. fresh sauerkraut
½ cup sour cream

  1. Saute the onion in the oil in a 4 quart saucepan over medium heat until the onions just start to brown.
  2. Add the pork and saute until just browned.
  3. Add the paprika, black pepper, marjoram, and salt and saute for about 30 seconds.
  4. Add just enough water to cover the meat.
  5. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and simmer for a half hour (add water if it gets low—it shouldn’t get either dry or soupy).
  6. Rinse and drain the sauerkraut thoroughly.
  7. Add the sauerkraut to the pan, stir in thoroughly, bring up to heat, and simmer for another 20 minutes.
  8. Add the sour cream to the pan, mix thoroughly, reduce the heat to low and simmer until it’s warmed completely—about 10 minutes.

Serve this with plain boiled potatoes and some good rye bread. If you want a salad, peeled sliced cucumbers with sour cream and dill would be good. A little strudel for dessert and you’ll be all set.

One final note: please, please use Hungarian paprika. Anything else is only good for coloring.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Man, Dave, you shouldn’t post stuff like this without warning. When read in a “hungry, don’t know what I want” mode, this stuff is seriously lethal. Yum. And I mean that sincerely. Only question — where do I get the fresh kraut in NW DC?

  • Ann Julien Link

    Don’t torture me like this!!! When can I have dinner at your house (whine, whine). luv, AJ

  • When can I have dinner at your house

    You’re welcome any time.

  • noname Link

    “szekely” people are not gypsy-s and szekely-gulyas doesn not means “gypsy goulash”.

  • A. Kerekes Link

    Contrary to commonly held view that Székely gulyas is named after the people of transylvania, it is in fact named after the the 19th century author, journalist Jozsef Székely the godfather of this dish

  • Anita Link

    thanks!!!nagyon szepen koszonom mert pont ezt kellett leforditsam angol orara. :)))

  • Anita Link

    The szekely gulyas is a favorite food for hungarian.

  • Alika Link

    The story is that Mr.Szekely arrived very late one evening at a restaurant – I think it was the famous Gundel restaurant in Budapest. They were out of almost everything except a little sour kraut and gulyas; he was very hungry, so they warmed up these leftovers with some sour cream, with some hearty bread on the side. The result was so delicious that this became a Hungarian staple dish.

  • Tibor Link

    Is a HUGE mistake in the introduction, probably not from bad intention but probably out of lack of knowledge. “SzĂ©kely gulyás” does not means “gypsy goulash”. Szekelys are the hungarians having their origins from an area in Transylvania called “Haromszek” – which means the Three Chairs region therefore deriving the name Szekely.
    If you don’t have chance to buy sauerkraut is easy to prepare but is like wine production (need to wait a few months to mature and finish the fermentation process). In a big container put a few heads of cabbage, with the center of the cabbage cut out. Fill he holes with coarse pure kosher salt (use only pure salt!!!) fill the container with boiled water (to kill the germs that mess up the fermentation) until the cabbages are covered. During you put the cabbages in the container place some dill (whole plant without the root) around them.
    Put on the top still in the water tarragon and dill. Close the container (small wood barrel is the best) and store it bellow room temperature (cellar is the best, anyway bellow 72F. Seal the container. Fermentation needs at least 3 weeks.

  • Jozef Szekely was supposedly the curator of the National Library, and he was working late. He went to a local inn/cafe called the “Musical Clock” and there made his request of the owner, when the kitchen was just closed. It was served as described above. It happened that the Hungarians’ national poet Petofi, was present and witnessed the serving of the dish. A day or so later, Petofi entered the Musical Clock and order “Szekely Gulyas”, which can be understood as Mr. Szekely’s mix/stew.
    He got it, and the next thing you knew it was a fave. The rest is history.

  • karcsi Link

    you idiot!!!!!!

    szekely gulyas -> siculian goulash

    “gipsy” is totally different