One of the undeniable truths of being an expat is that there are just some foods that you yearn after and I am no different, I would not necessarily describe myself as a “foodie” but I love to eat and I love to cook and as we grow some of the most fantastic produce it has ever been my pleasure to consume it is only natural that I eulogise it here.
Traditional Hungarian food is wonderful, it is rich and hearty fare that serves as fantastic fuel for a day working the land, but there are flavours from your upbringing that you dearly yearn for and there are but two options; “Red Cross” parcels from family and freinds or you step up to the plate and recreate those flavours and textures from back home! We really do prefer the latter, it may sound odd to the folk reading this that have never visited the UK but Indian food is incredibly popular back home, they are flavours that are part of food memories going back as far as I can remember and I have spent many a day working on getting the flavours I recognise into my attempts.
We do not stop at a good old “Ruby Murry” though, I was bought up in a family of butchers and the good old fashioned British “Banger” or Sausage is something that life would be much poorer without. The Hungarian sausage is a very varied beast, from the Hurka to the Kolbasz they are all very tasty but still not what you would choose to have on a sandwich when you have a hangover, although they do make a great “toad in the hole”. Naturally there is only one thing to do, roll up your sleeves and get stuck in, the picture above is my effort at the Great British “Banger” and they are superb, the quality of Pork that we buy over here is quite simply spectacular and you can buy natural sausage skins in any village shop. Fortunately I had a great teacher in the shape of my Uncle George to show me how to link sausages when he paid us a visit and I may very well be biased but these are the best sausages I have ever eaten 😀
My latest creation from “Blighty” is the traditional hand raised English Pork Pie (above), how difficult could it be right, the perenial picnic favourite of Britain? You would be surprised, I made a large one a while back for my wifes Birthday as it is one of her favourites and it takes a couple of days to get it right, at least a day making the stock for the jelly, then the preparation of the 3 cuts of pork, belly, shoulder and some nicely smoked bacon and finally the hot crust pastry (I hate making pastry) combining lard with butter, boiling water and flour.
I used a recipe from the River Cottage Meat book by Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall which is an absolute must have for devout carnivors, at almost 550 pages long and not filled with pointless pictures it contains fantastic recipes and great background information! I changed up the recipe a little so that I could hand raise two individual 1lb (450g) pies but essentially the recipe is as follows:
- 450 grams plain flour
- 150 grams melted lard (blood temp)
- 125ml boiling water
- 75 grams Butter
- 1 Teaspoon salt
- 600 grams pork shoulder (5mm cube)
- 150 grams fatty pork belly (chopped as fine as possible)
- 150 grams smokey bacon (chopped as fine as possible)
- Seasoning… salt, pepper, sage, bay leaf, cayenne pepper
Many people do not like the Jelly in a pork pie and find the concept of a meat jelly odd, but it is nothing more than a very good meat stock, we never throw any bones away from our roasted meats and save them in the freezer for making stock. All good stock really should end up being a jelly when it is cold and only turns to liquid when it is heated a little so for me it it is not all that strange.
Bring all the elements together, egg wash the pies then cook them in an oven at about 200°c for about an hour then let cool a little, you need to heat the stock so it is pourable and then feed it into the cavity of the pie through the hole you create in the top to allow the steam to escape it is full.
All you have to do then is try and wait until it is cooled properly and you have a Melton Mowbray style, or Magyar Mowbray Hand Raised Pork Pie, time consuming but another triumph for the expats not able to get food from home in their corner of Hungary and we will be consuming with our Anglo Magyar/Indian pickled Cucumber and Damson Chutney which wipes the floor with anything Branston produce. Unfortunately a lack of patience to tuck in meant that the pie was not perfect, my laboured stock did not have chance to set but there is another one in the fridge that hoefully will be good, still tastes great though!