Hungarian cuisine and gastronomy is often said to be a homogenous part of the Hungarian culture and tradition but it is not necessarily true.
In order to understand the essence and uniqueness of Hungarian cuisine, it is essential to know that the nomadic past of the Hungarian nation played a huge role in making Hungarian cuisine what it is today.
So the cuisine of Hungary is rather a mixture of cuisines of different nations, a so-called ‘melting-pot’ with influences of Asiatic, Turkish, Germanic and Slavic food culture. Of course, Hungarian people also enriched and formed the dishes to make them characteristically Hungarian.
During the centuries – mostly for historical reasons – new ingredients, new dishes became part of the Hungarian cuisine and consequently integral part of Hungarian culture. Many people do not know that Hungarian cuisine is composed of several regional varieties and these regional dishes or food preparation methods are usually connected not only to minorities living in Hungary but also to geographical regions.
This is also true for palinka and palinka production in Hungary and palinka has already earned the title “Hungaricum”, which basically means that palinka is Hungarian in all respects.
Palinka consumption is itself is a great experience but nowadays it is becoming more and more popular among chefs to use palinka when preparing main dishes, especially meat dishes. Those who like experimenting with flavours are huge fans of alcohol usage for culinary delights.
Palinka gives a unique and extra taste to poultry dishes or different kinds of fish but many people use palinka for making appetizers, snacks and sauces too.
Interestingly with the rise of the palinka’s popularity and modern culinary techniques and approaches, many competitions are organized to make ‘cooking with palinka’ even more popular. The competitors have to send recipes that contain palinka and the jury decide, which one is the best. There are different categories (starters, soups, main courses, desserts) and there is one winner in each category.
In the following, we list some of the most popular dishes made with palinka
Rack of lamb with rosemary peach
9 tbsp peach palinka, 0.9 kg rack of lamb, 5 tbsp peach jam, 0.2 kg bread crumbs, 4 tbsp soy sauce, 1 bunch of rosemary, 3 tbsp butter, 0.5 kg canned peach
Mix peach jam with palinka and soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to the lamb, then spread the mixture onto the meat. Put it in the fridge for 3-4 hours. Before roasting, sprinkle bread crumbs on the meat. Sprinkle some oil on it and roast the lamb in preheated oven. In the meantime, prepare the peach: heat butter in a pan, add the diced peach and chopped rosemary. Fry it and pour some peach palinka onto the peach. When the lamb is ready, let it rest for 5 minutes then slice it up. Serve with hot peach and mashed potato.
Chicken legs with palinka
Ingredients: 5 chicken legs, 6 dkg smoked bacon, 2 smaller onion, 1.5 dl apricot palinka, 9 db apricot, 2 dl dry white wine, pinch of ground bay leaf, salt and pepper
Cut smoked bacon into tiny cubes and melt it in a pan. Add the chopped onion, then the chicken legs (washed, dried and cut in half) and sautée them.
Then add the spices, apricot palinka and the white wine and let it cook under the lid. If the chicken legs are soft but there is too much liquid, remove the lid and fry it till all the liquid disappears.
Then remove the chicken legs and add the pitted, half apricots into the pan and sautée them for a few minutes.
Then add the chicken legs and bring them to boil. Serve with steamed rice.