Székely Goulash

On a cold evening in 1846, a county archivist stopped by a local inn in Budapest. He was famished and tried to order one of his favorite dishes. But it was close to closing time at the little inn and there was nothing to be served but pork and some leftover sauerkraut. His hunger spurring him on, the little archivist, who went by the name Jozsef Székely, demanded that the few scraps of food left in the kitchen be thrown together and heated into a stew. He found the resulting dish so delightful that he returned to the inn, with friends in tow, to order this new goulash dish. The poet Sándor Petőfi later christened this new goulash dish Székelygulyás.

Below is a recipe for this delicious and economical meal from Hungary Starts Here, a delightful blog on the fascinating cuisine of Hungary.

Székely Goulash

1/2 kilo meat (pork shoulder/leg or turkey’s leg), 1 kilo sauerkraut (pickled cabbage), 1 medium onion, 1 tbs red paprika powder, water, oil, salt and ground black pepper and marjoram to taste.

Ingredients for the roux: 1 cup sour cream, 1 tbs flour.


1. Make a pörkölt (stew). I mean that heat the oil in a large pot and the sliced onions and sauté until they get a nice golden brown color. Add the meat cube and sauté together until the meat begin to whiten. Sprinkle them with paprika powder and sauté a bit more. Add the salt and ground black pepper and marjoram, pour water enough to cover the content of the pan and let it simmer on low heat for the meat is half-cooked.
2. Rinse the sauerkraut (so it’s not too sour). Afterwards steam the sauerkraut in oil until it’s half-cooked.
3. Add the steamed sauerkraut to the pörkölt and cooked together until the meat cubes and sauerkraut are also softened.
4. Mix flour with the sour cream in a soup-plate and add one big spoon soup, mixed well. When cool enough the soup carefully add the whole mixed and boil again.
5. Finally if necessary add more spice and a little (just one or two teaspoon) juice of rinsed sauerkraut. This step is the second most important secret.


Baumgarthuber, Christine. Fermented Foods: The History and Science of a Microbiological Wonder. Reaktion Books, 2021.

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