Polish Pork Goulash

Although goulash is considered the Hungarian national dish, versions of it are common throughout the Carpathian Mountains. In Hungary it is almost always made with beef and served with small egg noodles while in Poland pork is the meat of choice and the stew is served with buckwheat kasha. In fact, the Polish name of this dish, Gulasz Wieprzowy, literally means pork goulash. I especially like the flavor of the sauerkraut and the smoothness of the sour cream. The nutty flavor of the kasha rounds out a splendid meal.

Note: I use hot Hungarian paprika whereas in Poland a milder version would likely be used.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds pork cut into 1-inch cubes, shoulder or the fattier part of the loin is best
  • Flour for dredging, about ½ cup (I use white rice flour)
  • 2 ounces bacon in small dice or coarsely chopped
  • Homemade lard or neutral cooking oil
  • 1 pound yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, about 4 or 5 cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons paprika, more or less to taste
  • 1 12-ounce bottle beer, a lightly hopped lager is best
  • Beef or pork stock as needed, about 2 cups
  • 2 pound bag of fresh sauerkraut (best) or an equivalent amount of canned sauerkraut
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
  • ½ cup sour cream (I use non-fat or low-fat)
  • Salt and pepper

Method

Season the flour with black pepper and dredge the pork cubes shaking off any excess. Set aside.

Melt about a tablespoon of the lard in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and render the bacon until crispy. Remove from the pot, leaving as much fat behind as possible, and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium and adjust the fat in the pan with lard or oil to a depth of about ⅛ inch, about 3 tablespoons. Sauté the onion in the hot fat until soft and translucent but not browned, 5 or 6 minutes. Add the garlic and continue sautéing for a minute or two. Stir in the paprika and cook for yet another minute.

Off heat, add the pork cubes to the pot and stir to coat evenly with the onions and paprika. Pour in the beer and enough stock to cover the meat by about ½ inch. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat about an hour, less if you are using loin.

Drain and rinse the sauerkraut. Add it and the caraway seeds to the stew. Adjust the liquid with stock or water if needed and simmer over medium-low heat for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the sour cream and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve over prepared buckwheat kasha garnished with the reserved bacon.


Kasha

Most often in the United States kasha is most often synonymous with buckwheat kasha, but that is not the case in Eastern Europe where the word means simply porridge. Nonetheless here is a simple recipe for buckwheat kasha that makes a tasty alternative to rice or other grains. Called kasha gryczana in Polish, it is the authentic accompaniment for pork goulash, gulasz weiprzowy.

Note: you can usually find buckwheat kasha in the bulk foods section of any health food store or in your supermarket’s kosher foods section (although the latter is likely to be much more expensive). Be sure to buy the whole grain version; others will give you a mushy dish. Oh, and do not confuse kasha with the brand name Kashi, which is the plural.

Ingredients

  • I cup buckwheat kasha
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt to taste

Method

Rinse the kasha and let it drain. Melt the butter in a saucepan with a tightly-fitting lid. Fry the kasha in the butter over medium heat until you can just start to smell its aroma, perhaps 2 minutes. Pour in the water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season to taste before serving.

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