Hungarian Sausages: Cooking, Serving, and Buying

Hungarian sausages, rich in flavor and tradition, come in varied types like Kolbász, Szalámi, and Hurka; learn to cook and serve them authentically.

Sausages

Sausages hold a special place in Hungarian cuisine, a realm rich with flavors and traditions. Today, I’m diving deep into the world of Hungarian sausages, guiding you through their history, varieties, and culinary uses. By the end of this journey, you’ll not only be familiar with the unique types of Hungarian sausages but also equipped with knowledge on incorporating them into your dishes, possibly discovering a new favorite recipe along the way.

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Discovering Hungarian Sausages

Hungarian sausages, known for their distinct flavors and traditional preparation methods, come in several varieties. Let’s explore the three primary types that are staples in Hungarian and European cuisines.

Kolbász

Kolbász is the quintessential Hungarian sausage, celebrated for its smoky essence and vibrant red color, courtesy of the generous use of paprika. It varies in spice levels and can be made from beef, pork, or a blend. The towns of Gyula and Békéscsaba are renowned for their versions, where the kolbász is not just food but a part of the local heritage, protected as trademarks.

Particularly notable is the lecsókolbász, the spiciest variant, which plays a starring role in the Hungarian dish lecsó, akin to the French Andouille in its flavor profile and versatility.

Szalámi

Unlike its paprika-rich cousin, szalámi is a pork-based sausage that eschews paprika for a blend of white pepper and allspice. The most famous, téliszalámi, or winter salami, is a delicacy cured in the cold air and gently smoked. It’s known internationally as “Hungarian salami,” prized for its rich flavors and aromatic spices.

Hurka

Hurka, akin to the Cajun andouille or British blood sausage, combines meat with rice and spices, offering a robust flavor profile. It comes in blood or liver varieties and requires boiling or frying, presenting a stark contrast to the lighter boudin blanc or German weisswurst.

Cooking Hungarian Sausages

Each sausage type demands a unique approach to cooking to fully reveal its flavors. While szalámi often graces charcuterie boards in thin, elegant slices, kolbász and hurka are the heart of traditional Hungarian dishes, contributing both seasoning and substance.

A classic dish that showcases kolbász beautifully is lecsó, a stew of tomatoes and peppers that resembles ratatouille but with a distinct Hungarian twist. Below, I share my nearly-authentic lecsó recipe, promising a warm, comforting experience.

Lecsó: Hungarian Sausage and Tomato Stew

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 pound of mild peppers (bell and banana work well), sliced
  • 3 large heirloom tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 pound lecsókolbász, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup oil or rendered pork fat
  • 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika
  • Salt, to taste

Preparation:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium-high. Add onions, cooking until translucent.
  2. Incorporate peppers, cooking until soft.
  3. Add tomatoes, paprika, and salt, simmering on medium for 20 minutes.
  4. Stir in sausage slices in the last 5 minutes.
  5. Serve with rice or bread for a comforting meal.

Serving and Pairing

When serving Hungarian sausages like kolbász and hurka, ensure they’re cooked thoroughly, typically pan-fried or simmered. Their rich spices make them excellent companions to mustards and dipping sauces, enhancing their robust flavors.

Where to Find Hungarian Sausages

Eager to try these culinary delights at home? Thankfully, traditional Hungarian sausages are accessible worldwide, thanks to numerous online vendors.

  • Otto’s Hungarian Deli, based in Burbank, California, offers an authentic selection, having imported Hungarian specialties for nearly four decades.
  • Paulina Market in Chicago provides a range of traditionally-made sausages, known for their quality and affordability.
  • For a modern twist, Raddell’s Sausage Shop in Cleveland, Ohio, offers sausages that are a hit with the American palate, balancing garlic and paprika beautifully.

Exploring Hungarian sausages is not just a culinary adventure but a journey through history and culture. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a curious food enthusiast, incorporating these flavors into your cooking can bring a piece of Hungary into your kitchen. Happy cooking!

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