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Hungarian Meatballs  Print

This recipe (adapted from Bogre’s submission at food52.com) appeared in Sunny With a Chance of Meatballs on 23 Oct 2009

Hungarian MeatballsFor the Meatballs:
3/4 pounds ground pork
3/4 pounds ground beef (15–20% fat)
1/4 pound pancetta, small dice (Trader Joe’s sells packages of this)
1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (each) red pepper flakes, ground coriander, ground cumin, caraway seeds (crushed), kosher salt, and ground pepper
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Sauce:
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered (I used 8 ounces)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 large banana pepper*, chopped
1 tablespoon (heaping) sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon hot or half–sharp paprika
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon porcini mushroom powder*
1/4 teaspoon (each) dried rosemary, thyme, crushed fennel seeds, and marjoram
1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped and divided in half
1/2 cup dry white wine
14 ounces stewed tomatoes, chopped, with juices
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup sour cream
Grated parmesan cheese (my addition)
Preheat oven to 325° F. Lightly mix all ingredients for the meatballs* (except the olive oil) together and form into balls approximately 1–1 1/2 inches in diameter. Cover and place in refrigerator so they can firm up (about 30 minutes). Brown the meatballs (on all sides) in the olive oil in a large, oven–safe pan. Once they have browned, remove them to a plate and set aside.

Add the chopped onion to the pan drippings and sauté them until they start to brown. Add the mushrooms and sauté a few minutes more (until they start to brown). Add the garlic and chopped pepper and sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds), then add the paprikas, the mushroom powder and the rest of the herbs and spices (use only half of the parsley at this time). Cook for about a minute more, stirring constantly. Stir in the wine and deglaze the pan. Cook until wine is mostly evaporated, then stir in tomatoes (with their juices) and the broth. Bring to a boil, then return the meatballs to the pan.

Transfer the pan to oven and braise for 1–1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

When the braising time is up, remove the pan from the oven. Put the sour cream into a small bowl, then temper* it by stirring in a few spoonfuls of the braising liquid. Stir the sour cream mixture back into the pan, evenly coating the meatballs and thoroughly mixing the sauce around in the pan. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and the remaining parsley over the tops of the meatballs and serve as an appetizer or entrée. When served as an entrée, try using the meatballs and sauce as a topping over egg noodles or spaetzle.

*Cook’s Notes: I couldn’t find a fresh banana pepper at the store, so I used some jarred, deli–sliced banana peppers I found in my refrigerator. I rinsed them thoroughly to rid them of the brine and then chopped them up. I also had no idea where to find porcini mushroom powder, so I just ground up (to a powder) some dried mushrooms I had on hand with my mini pimer. I’m not sure which kind of mushroom I used (the container listed four varieties on the label) but, I’m sure any kind of mushroom powder would work fine. Also, it was suggested by the editors of food52.com to mix the pork and beef before adding the rest of the seasonings and to roll the meatballs as gently as possible. And be sure to temper the sour cream before blending it into the sauce!

WI wine recommendation: You’ll already have a bottle of dry white wine open for preparing this dish, but you might prefer a Syrah to complement the spices in the dish.