stuffed paprikas

hungarian cuisine is starting to take over our lives.

we’ve now visited several different old-style hungarian restaurants, as well as some more modern ones. i’ve had chicken paprikas (naturally, i had to try one that wasn’t my own!), goulash (recipe coming soon), venison, veal, and a lot of duck. i just love eating duck. plus, i even made my chicken paprikas for some of my husband’s coworkers, and they seemed to enjoy it along with the fresh spaetzle, in spite of the fact that i trashed a friend’s kitchen in the process. spaetzle is delicious, but not the neatest, most elegant thing to make when you have people watching you.

but one of my favorite recipes to date, the one my husband can’t ever stop talking about, is a delicious, not-too-complicated, soul-soothing dish: stuffed paprikas.

in case you’re not aware – i’m not afraid to admit that i wasn’t until i got here – the word paprika is used in english to refer to the bright red spice, created by grinding dried peppers. but in many european languages, including hungarian, paprika refers to a fresh pepper. muddling the waters further, the dish called stuffed paprikas refers to a stuffed bell pepper (or paprikas pepper, as they’re labeled in the markets) that contains paprika (the spice) in the stuffing mixture. confusing, if you’re an ignorant american like myself, but you figure it out pretty quickly when a native hungarian tells you that you absolutely must make stuffed paprikas and you try to figure out how you could possibly stuff something into a ground spice.

insomnia is rough. it makes me easily confused.

anyway, the following recipe is from a native hungarian, who kindly emailed me instructions after taking me to the biggest market in the city to help me shop for ingredients. köszönöm, jutka!

hungarian stuffed paprikas

1 lb ground pork
1/2 cup rice, partially cooked
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp hungarian paprika, either sweet or hot
4-6 bell peppers, with tops and cores removed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
15 ounces tomato sauce or puree
1 cup boiling water (optional)
2 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
salt and pepper to taste 

in a large mixing bowl, combine ground pork, rice, egg, and paprika, adding a bit of salt and pepper. using your fingers, gently stuff the cored peppers with the meat mixture. if you have any remaining, add a bit of flour and create meatballs. place peppers and meatballs side by side in a large saucepan or stock pot.

in a saucepan, saute chopped onion in olive oil until lightly browned. add tomato sauce and, if it’s very thick, boiling water, and allow to come to a simmer. carefully pour tomato mixture over peppers and meatballs, then put over medium heat. top with chopped parsley, salt, and pepper, and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until peppers are just soft.

this dish is traditionally served over potatoes, either roasted with oil and seasonings or mashed. for a healthier alternative, try with sauteed winter greens or brown rice. for a hungarian touch, top the whole thing with (you guessed it!) sour cream.

and for all of you who keep complaining about the lack of dorky vacation-type photos, here’s a quick shot of us on our way out the door for our valentine’s day dinner:

i promise to put some shots of us up in my next post, once we get back from our next weekend trip – to rome!

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5 thoughts on “stuffed paprikas

  1. Just found you through foodbuzz, and buzzed you! I haven’t made töltött paprika (stuffed peppers) in years, although my mom, and her family are originally from Hungary. It was a childhood favorite of mine. Your stuffed peppers with the perfect yellow paprika is beautiful, and so well presented!…absolutely loving it:DDD
    Just a little concern of mine…that the ground pork would cook in 15 -20 minutes, even though the peppers are soft?

    Great post of Budapest..thanks for sharing!

    • thanks so much for the kind words! it’s already become a favorite and i’m sure i’ll play with many variations in the coming years. the pork cooks surprisingly quickly – i’m not sure if it’s due to the fact that the tomato sauce goes in hot with a bunch of room-temperature ingredients, or the rice helps it cook, but i ate one after 20 minutes of cooking and it was definitely done. you could certainly cook it longer if you were concerned – all it does is make the peppers more tender, and my husband actually prefers them that way – you may too! :)

  2. Pingback: Gastronomy Alumna: Hungry in Hungary « Gastronomy at BU

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