Hortobágy crepes are one of our most controversial foods, but at the same time so much Hungarianness is rarely found in a single meal. The history of this dish is at the same time both hazy and unequivocally clear. Nevertheless, it is indisputable that this creation, which is for some strange reason served as an appetizer, is incredibly tasty.
Translation by Tamás Vaski
A Hortobágy crepe is practically stewed veal folded into a thicker (compared to Hungarian crepes), salty crepe, covered in pörkölt (Hungarian beef stew) gravy. It was first officially presented under this name by a Hungarian chef at the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair. This crepe was one of the foods among those offered by the Soviet Bloc which helped contribute to the positive presentation of socialist gastronomy in Brussels.
Hortobágy crepes later faced a series of attacks accusing them of having nothing to do with the Hortobágy region of Hungary (despite this type of naming process having been a European tradition for centuries). The dish was argued to have existed long before its presentation in 1958, specifically in the cook book of Andrea Dávid Lemhényi Kolmanné, “The Textbook of Practical Cooking in the Frame of a Hundred Lunches.”
The conflict was first of all caused by socialist gastronomy pulling it in as its own, but the truth is that we can find recipes eerily similar to Hortobágy crepes prior to Lemhényi Kolmanné’s mention in 1939. The oldest dates back to 1909, in a recipe for chicken paprikash crepes, but since the civil kitchen of the 19th century is known to have lovingly filled meaty ragouts into thin crepe doughs, it is more than likely that the recipe is hundreds of years old.
It is entirely acceptable to conclude that Hortobágy crepes were not discovered in 1958, but it is clear that that is when they received a name with such a nice ring to it. History here or there, Hortobágy Crepes are unquestionably one of our most divine Hungarian meals.
-For Roughly 10 crepes-
- 20 dkg fine flour
- 2 eggs
- 2 dl milk
- 1.5 dl soda (or carbonated mineral water)
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- +cooking oil
For the pörkölt:
- Half a kilogram of chicken (either thigh or breast)
- 1-2 onions
- 1 big serving of sour cream (330 g)
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 Hungarian paprika
- 1 tomato
First let’s start with the pörkölt base.
Finely chop the peeled onions. Cut the meat into small cubes. Chop the cleaned peppers and tomatoes into smaller cubes as well.
Simmer the onions on a small amount of oil, and once they are glassy, sprinkle on the paprika, and then add the meat. After stirring thoroughly, add some salt and pepper to taste, let it cook for a bit, then add the paprika and the tomatoes. Top it all off with a thorough amount of water, and let it cook, covered, for 30-35 minutes.
Mix a portion of the sour cream in the pörkölt, but leave enough for decoration on top of the crepes. Drain the cooked pörkölt.
Now we prepare the crepes.
Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk them thoroughly.
Gradually add the flour, milk, and carbonated water. If the dough is too thick, add some carbonated water. Add the salt and oil as well and let the dough sit for half an hour.
Pour a small amount of oil into a pan or griddle for cooking the crepes, heat it up, and cook the crepes.
Pack the meat into the inside of the crepes, and fold them up like little satchels. Pour the pörkölt gravy on top of them and serve them with sour cream.
Photos and featured photo by Péter Csákvári/Hungary Today