Might not look like much (hence the name), but man is this good. If it would have been up to me I would have called this “Meat Stew” for obvious reasons on the ingredients list, but this is a traditional Hungarian stew, is fabulous and slightly decadent, and is especially tasty on a winter’s day. As with many recipes, there are several versions of this dish out there, but this is what I have always had growing up, and I think it is the more “classic” rendition, but I’m not an authority on the subject so who knows. Also like most soups & stews, it gets better as it sits longer in the fridge (to a point of course).
1-1/2 lb. fatty pork stew meat or spare ribs (boneless)
1-1/2 lb. fresh brisket of beef (not corned beef)
1 lg. cabbage
1/4 lb. smoked bacon (Optional)
~ 3TB oil
1 lg. Red Onion, diced
1 bunch tarragon
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 – 1/2 C white or red wine vinegar (depends on taste and how much liquid you ended up using).
Sour Cream to taste (1C seems to me the bare minimum)
In a large pot place the beef and pork. Fill with cold water to cover meat plus a little. Add a tablespoon of salt. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for 1-1/2 hours. Remove from heat, reserve the broth, and set meat out on a cutting board to cool until you can cut it into ~ 1″ cubes.
Meanwhile, cut the cabbage in manageable wedges and place them on a rack in the sink, salt them and pour about a kettles’ worth of boiling water over them. If such racks are not available you can always just toss them in a pot of boiling water for a couple of minutes and then drain them. If you are using bacon, cut it into pieces.
In a large pot, heat the oil and then toss in the onions, sautéing until they are translucent. Take off the heat and place 1/3 of the cabbage on top of the onions in a layer. Salt & Pepper. Place the beef cubes and 1/2 the bacon if using. Spread 1/2 the remaining cabbage as the next layer, then add the tarragon (I just use the leaves from the bunch). Add the pork and the rest of the bacon. Finally, cover with the last of the cabbage. Salt and Pepper.
Skim most of the fat off the top of the saved broth and pour it over the layered ingredients. If it does not reach the top add some water being mindful you don’t dilute the broth too much. Bring to a simmer and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. Taste it as it will likely need more salt and pepper. Add the vinegar and set aside to cool. Add the sour cream and stir.
It is good to serve with another dollop of sour cream in the bowl from this chef’s perspective. Enjoy it with a chunk of good bread and a glass of white wine. Or a color of your choice.