Marha porkolt (pörkölt) is a thick paprika-rich beef stew from the Hungarian Alfold, my version cooks the beef in red wine and sweet paprika.
Many people don’t associate Hungary with wine, but it produces loads of the stuff and vörösboros marhapörkölt is the mainstay of many rural Hungarian restaurants and it is every bit as popular as goulash!
Slow-Cooked Hungarian Beef Stew
I spent 13 years living in the Hungarian countryside and as a result, my site is littered with Hungarian recipes.
Whether they be the well-known recipes like goulash or gulyás and chicken paprikas, or less famous recipes like rakott kaposzta (layered cabbage casserole) and langos I have a fondness for so many of them.
This marha porkolt (marhapörkölt) recipe is a simple and delicious beef stew!
It is the meal I order most often from restaurant menus whether it be beef, mutton birkapörkölt or venison although I usually steer clear of the tripe variant!
Hungarian food remains steadfastly simple to this very day, grasping onto its traditions with a resolute determination.
Spices in general use are spicy paprika, sweet paprika, which is never smoked, caraway, salt and black pepper.
Just like goulash, it would have been cooked in a kettle or cauldron over an open fire. In fact, it often still is at the countless local festivals I attend every year!
It is a very simple way of cooking and originates on the Hungarian Great Plain, right where I lived!
I deeply distrust the use of the word authentic when it comes to food, it is used as a tool and never as a descriptive word.
So I will avoid it here and simply say that this is a dish that you could put on the table in the Hungarian countryside in front of a Hungarian and be congratulated.
This is a claim that I have tested on many occasions!
Frequently Asked Questions
What sort of paprika should I use?
You are looking for something named sweet paprika or just paprika, avoid smoked or spicy papariak.
Please do try and hunt down some Hungarian paprika if you can, it’s superb and it really does make the dish special!
If it is in its original Hungarian packaging you are looking for the word édes, which means sweet. Possibly even the phrase “1 Osztály” which means 1st class.
What sort of beef should I use?
I use either neck or shin of beef for this marha porkolt recipe. They are the cuts that are typically available here in rural Hungary.
It is often a mix of the two as shin is gelatinous and results in a great body, neck on the other hand, offers a great flavour.
But you can use any stewing or braising beef, that has a little fat!
What is the difference between pörkölt and goulash (gulyás)?
Well simply one is a soup and the other is a stew, goulash contains lots of root vegetables, this doesn’t.
It is simply and unashamedly meat in a thick paprika gravy. This dish should be thick and unctuous with meat that is fall-apart tender.
Can I use red or yellow peppers rather than green?
I would not because they are a little too sweet.
In Hungary, this is made with a white pepper often referred to as TV Paprika. It serves to offer body to the recipe and not a great deal of flavour, as a result, my suggestion is to use green pepper.
As far as I am concerned the only thing that I want with marha porkolt is nokedli, or Hungarian egg noodles/dumplings. They are magic, super easy to make and very similar to German Spätzle.
Adding pickles, any pickles will make the experience much more Hungarian!
I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.
- 24cm or 10″ saucepan or Dutch oven.
- Bowl or tub for marinating the beef.
- Stirring and serving spoons.
- Kitchen knife.
- Chopping board.
- Weighing scales and or measuring cups and spoons.
Marha Porkolt is the classic Hungarian Beef Stew, no it is not a goulash but beautifully simple slow-cooked comfort food that will have you craving more.
- 450g (1lb) Stewing Beef
- 750ml (1 Bottle) Red Wine
- 5 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 200g (1⅓ Cup) Onion
- 2 Tbsp Lard, substitute for goose or duck fat
- 1 Green Bell Pepper
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree
- 1 Tsp Caraway Seeds
- 2 Tbsp Sweet Hungarian Paprika
- Generous Pinch Salt
- Cut the beef into 2.5cm (1") cubes and place in a bowl.
- Pour over the wine and add the thyme and bay leaves, cover with cling film and marinate for a maximum of 24 hours.
- When you are ready to cook finely slice your onion into half-moons.
- Heat a 24cm or 10" saucepan or Dutch oven over a medium-high heat and when it is hot add the lard.
- Fry the onion, stirring occasionally until golden brown and soft.
- Finely dice the green pepper and finely chop the garlic.
- Remove the beef from the marinade discarding the thyme and bay leaves but reserving the wine.
- Pat the meat dry and then add to the onions and cook until lightly browned.
- Add the garlic and green pepper and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sweet paprika, salt and caraway seeds.
- Pour over enough of the red wine to just cover the beef and add the tomato puree, then stir to combine.
- Reduce the heat so that the sauce simmers and cook for 3-4 hours. As the meat cooks the sauce will evaporate, and the exposed beef will darken, stir this darkened beef into the juices every so often. You want a very thick sauce at the end of cooking.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 653Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 9gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 49mgSodium: 120mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 5gSugar: 10gProtein: 15g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.