Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Vegetarians, Please Avert Your Eyes !

Our hosts in Hungary could give lessons on how to be gracious hosts.

As it was our first visit to his country The Hungarian was determined that we have authentic Hungarian everything. This included a traditional Hungarian Barbecue.

The following practice will not be to everybody's taste, and I wouldn't have it every day but it was delicious.

Through our host's vast knowledge of all things Hungarian, I have learned that there is a rare breed of Hungarian pig called the mangalica (pronounced mang a LEET za). The flavour from this pig has no rival. In addition to the extra tastiness of this breed, through dietary manipulation, they can make this pork healthier to eat than ordinary breeds of pig! Really, they did studies! You can read about the study HERE.

Light a wood fire out of doors - the wood from the acacia tree would be preferable. If you don't have that, any old wood will do, even old garden trellis.

Whilst you are waiting for the fire to mature to a lovely bed of coals, prepare the bacon fat. Yup. Bacon fat.This is what the mangalica bacon fat looks like on sale at the Central Market in Budapest. These big bricks of bacon fat are cut into smaller bricks. Ensure that they are large enough to poke through with a good stout stick. Once your chunk of bacon fat has been skewered with the stick, the fat must be scored deeply on the sides.This is Gordon's photo. You can see that there are a number of prepared bacon fat chunks stuck in the ground awaiting grilling. Most of the following photos are courtesy of Chameleon.Here is the lovely Louise posing with her bacon fat. You can see that the fat has already been scored.Here I am with my little chunk-o-bacon. I am smiling because I am thinking that The Man of the Place could no more take part in what we were about to do than he could eat his own head. That, and the Hungarian wine we were drinking was very very yummy.

When the flames have died down and you've got yourself a good bed of coals glowing away, it is time to start grilling the bacon fat. I bet you are thinking that we're going to do nothing but drip bacon fat onto the fire and we'll all be kippered but hold on a minute. Do you see the big slices of bread to the left of the flames? They come into play very soon. Oops, the flames haven't died down enough yet! His eyes got stung a bit.
Over to the other side where there is less smoke he went and started to grill his bacon fat.

You must keep turning your stick quite quickly at all times. When the rendered fat starts to drip you remove the fat from the fire and let it drip on your bread. When it stops dripping, one returns the fat to the fire and the process starts again. So you grill, drip, grill, drip until your slice of bread is sodden with bacon fat drippings. Then you place slices of paprika (a fresh Hungarian pepper) and tomato on the bread and you eat it while it's still warm.

When the now much smaller bit of bacon fat has finished dripping and you've got just a small bit of bacon fat on the end of your stick, it is the work of moments with a sharp knife to cut off the carbonized corners to allow you to eat the remaining chunk of crispy fat. I had a nibble of mine and as I had reached my fill of fat for the evening, I tossed that last little bit out into the garden for the birds to have in the morning. I also managed to get the bacon drips off my shirt yesterday.

Next year, we are going to have goulash (Hungarian soup) cooked in a big cauldron over an open fire.

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