Hungarian Meatbawls

11 Mar

There is something so comforting, so rich, so filling about a good meatball. I’ve made plenty of delicious meatballs in my day (one of the best recently was a curried turkey meatball with spaghetti squash I made from random stuff I had in my kitchen, it’s a travesty I was too lazy to document the outcome). However, I’ve also made plenty a bland, dry, and strange textured ball of meat as well. One of the biggest hurdles with any type of meat mixture is you can’t taste as you go, leaving a world of possibility open for under-salting (or the dreaded over salting, you just can’t come back from that man), drying out, and more. I’ve had to start getting a little more heavy handed with my salt and spices because I’ve been the victim (read: the culprit) of some under-salted and bland balls. Let’s just say it takes some real culinary balls (hey-O) to salt meat with confidence. Or maybe I’m overreacting, whatevs, but I made some meatballs recently, could you guess?

{ Food52 – Hungarian Meatballs }


John and I had been talking meatballs, and while I was first gravitating toward some type of italian-esque dish, when I saw this recipe I knew I had to make it. And rather than take shortcuts (subbing turkey for pork, etc), I dove right it and got the correct blend of meats.



What was intriguing about these meatballs was the incredible blend of spices that went into the meat. Red pepper flakes, coriander, cumin, caraway seeds, kosher salt, and ground pepper. I took it a step further and ground up some fennel to give it that extra “sausage-y” flavor. I’ve felt a noticeable shift in my cooking lately, as I get more comfortable with various spices and herbs, the proper application of the little lovelies will take anything from “hey this is pretty good” to “oooh! what is that I’m tasting”

HandAnd what is it about mixing raw meat with your hands that brings out your primal urges, such as squeezing said meat, or clubbing the closest person and dragging them to your cave. Hey, this species needs to procreate and live on SOMEHOW.

Once you’re done walking on all fours, form the meatballs, and give them a quick nap in the fridge to harden up (or take the shortcut and put them in the freezer for 5 minutes). Then give them a good browning all over



Be sure to do this in a large pot or dutch oven so you are able to use this “container” for the rest of the dish to utilize all those delicious brown spots left on the bottom (oooh yeah, brown spots on the bottom). Once they’re all browned, set them aside



When they look like that, I always just want to try them, but have to remind myself that “Hey buddy, they’re raw in the middle”.

Now onto the sauce. Chop up your veggies (oOOooo, is that a Hungarian pepper I see?)
INgredientsAnd give them a good stir along with wine, spices, tomatoes, chicken broth, and lots of different types of paprika. This recipe calls for porcini mushroom powder, but I don’t have that, and wtf is porcini mushroom powder anyways, so I omitted it. I’ll always wonder “what if”, but so is life. Once you’ve got yourself a nice stew going, toss the browned meatballs back in, cover, and bake for about 90 minutes (or until you can’t stand it anymore).

MeatballBakeOoooooog yeahhhhh. At this point you’re supposed to mix in sour cream to give the “broth” a nice and creamy texture, but someone (me) forgot to get sour cream, so she substituted about 1 Tbs of greek yogurt since that was readily available. I don’t think it made a difference, honestly. But, that is not to say this wasn’t DELICIOUS. Just, magnificent, really.

I boiled up some egg noodles, for a nice base, and spooned the meatballs over top for a delightful meal. It made a TON so we had meatballs coming out of the wazoo for about 3 days (which in our house is a long time), but I enjoyed every re-heated minute of it.


{ Food52 – Hungarian Meatballs }

For the meatballs

  • 3/4pounds ground pork
  • 3/4pounds ground beef (80/20 or 85/15)
  • 1/4pound pancetta, small dice
  • 1/2cup parmesean, grated
  • 3/4cups breadcrumbs
  • 1/4cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1teaspoon (each) red pepper flakes, ground coriander, ground cumin, caraway seeds (crushed), kosher salt, and ground pepper
  • 2eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2/3cups whole milk
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
For the sauce

  • 1medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1large banana pepper, chopped
  • 1tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika (1 heaping tbsp)
  • 1/2teaspoon hot or half-sharp paprika
  • 1/4teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1teaspoon porcini mushroom powder
  • 1/4teaspoon (each) dried rosemary, thyme, crushed fennel seeds, and marjoram
  • 1/4cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2cup dry white wine
  • 15 ozstewed tomatoes, chopped, with juices
  • 2cups chicken broth
  • 1/2cup sour cream
  1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly mix all ingredients for the meatballs except the olive oil together and form into balls 1-1 1/2 inches in diameter. (Depending on size, you should get between 20 and 30.) Allow time to refrigerate them so they firm up a bit.
  2. In an oven-safe pan, brown the meatballs in olive oil on all sides. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and set aside.
  3. Add the chopped onion to the pan dripping and saute until starting to brown. Add mushroom and saute a few minutes more, until they start to brown as well. Add garlic and peppers and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then add the paprikas, the porcini powder, and the rest of the herbs and spices. Cook, stirring, about a minute. Deglaze with wine. Cook until wine is mostly evaporated, then stir in tomatoes and their juices and the broth. Bring to a boil and return the meatballs to the pan.
  4. Transfer the pan the oven and braise for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally and luxuriating in the awesome aromas that should be enveloping your kitchen at this point.
  5. 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, coating the meatballs and heating through. Serve as an appetizer or with spaetzle or egg noodles for an entree.



2 Responses to “Hungarian Meatbawls”

  1. Jon Jefferson March 11, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    You can check your spices by cooking off a small portion before forming and cooking the whole mass. Can save you the pain of an undersalted ball or worse overly salty ball (no one wants to put salty balls in their mouth).

  2. the winegetter March 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

    Oh my God, these look absolutely amazing!

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