Hungarian easter recipes
Hungarian easter recipes – Ham and eggs are traditional fare
For the Hungarian celebration of Easter, the table is richly laden. Alongside slices of fragrant ham, the table is adorned with a braided Easter loaf; there are eggs, boiled in the cooking liquid from the ham, and grated horseradish, served alone or in a vinegar dressing. The accompaniments include mustard, radishes, and young onions. The feast often also includes lamb dishes and nut or poppy-seed cake.
“No Easter meal is complete without ham,” according to tradition. Indeed, Hungarians set great store by the Easter ham. It is sometimes taken to be blessed by the priest after Mass, along with the eggs, horseradish, and braided loaf.
On the farm, when a pig is slaughtered, the best ham is reserved for Easter, and cured or smoked with extra care. Equal care is taken when buying a ham for Easter. The traditional country ham is not the only kind available. Some opt for smoked knuckle; others for a boned and netted ham. This type proves less popular among those conscious of tradition, though it does have a lower fat content.
Hungarian easter recipes – Easter loaf
No festive meal would be complete without the Easter loaf. This is a light yeast bread with a golden brown crust, made in the form of a circular braid. In the Hungarian countryside, people have been baking such a loaf for special occasions for six hundred years. More elegant than standard bread, it is an essential feature at Easter, Christmas, and country weddings. It is made in basically the same way everywhere, with slight regional variations in the dough, and variations in appearance according to the occasion.
1 sugar cube
3 cups/700 ml milk
1 3/4 cakes/30 g compressed yeast
8 1/3 cups/1 kg flour
1 egg yolk
1 tsp salt
Scant 1 cup/100 g confectioners’ sugar
Generous 1/2 cup/140 g butter
1 egg for glazing
Dissolve the sugar cube in scant 1/2 cup/100 ml lukewarm milk
Crumble into the milk the yeast and leave for about 10 minutes in a warm place. Sift the flour, and combine with the egg yolk, .salt, and yeast mixture. Add the confectioners’ sugar, half the butter, and the remaining milk, slightly warmed.
Knead to a smooth dough, using the dough hook of a mixer. When the dough begins to come away from the sides of the bowl, add the remaining softened butter, a tablespoonful at a time. Knead in firmly. Sprinkle with flour, then cover with a kitchen cloth and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size (about 30 minutes). Divide the dough into three equal portions, and shape each into a long roll on a floured working surface. Braid them together. Place on a greased baking tray to prove again until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 °F/ 200 °C. Brush the loaf with beaten egg, and bake for 45—50 minutes. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Hungarian easter recipes – Larded Easter leg of lamb
1 3/4 lbs/800 g boned leg of lamb
3 1/2 oz/100 g bacon fat
Scant 1/2 cup/100 g lard or white vegetable fat
1 1/2 tbsp/30 g tomato paste
2 tbsp flour
4 tsp/20 g butter
Start by preheating the oven to 350 °F/180 °C. Rinse the meat well and pat dry. Tie with string if necessary to retain the shape. Cut the bacon fat into thin strips, and insert into the meat at intervals over the surface.
Place in a roasting pan, then season with salt and pour over the melted lard. Roast for about 40-60 minutes until light brown, turning and basting frequently. Remove the string and let the meat cool a little before serving. To make the sauce, heat the tomato paste riefly, then sprinkle with flour and stir it to blend.
Add 3/4 cup/200 ml water, and bring to the boil. Finally, stir in the butter.
Steamed mixed vegetables, mashed potato, or lettuce make a suitable accompaniment.