This is a dish that does not get a lot of respect. People who have done military service recall that they got them all the time. Students get them every Friday, whether they want them or not, and usually they would rather not. Be that as it may, I think they are sublime. But I have adapted the preparation a bit. So here goes:
About a cup of good beans (the ones from Tetovo are best; under our diasporic conditions we used some labelled "giant Greek beans"; we have had the insane good fortune to have a Turkish market open in our neighborhood which sells fasulye; some people will tell you that you can use large lima beans, but they are lying)
Soak them for a long time. Overnight is best. It is possible to cheat by putting them in water, bringing it to a boil and letting them go about a minute, then covering them, turning off the heat, and letting the gloppy mess sit for 3 hours at least. When they have finished soaking, just about every cookbook will tell you to rinse them and replace the water, but I never do this. Then bring it to a boil again and let it boil as long as you can, at least 90 minutes. Meanwhile chop up:

2 onions
3 carrots
2 sweet peppers

Chop the unfortunate vegetables and put them in a bowl. Any other vegetable you think would be nice could go just fine here, especially celery root. When this is done heat up some oil in a frying pan and add:

a few spoonfuls of flour
a spoonful or two of good Hungarian paprika (it's best if you know someone who will smuggle it, otherwise the Szeged brand sold in grocery stores will do in a pinch)

Stir the flour and paprika in the oil until the mixture achieves a color of transcendent beauty. Add the chopped up vegetables and fry them in the mixture (y'all call it a zaprška, we call it a roux) for about 5 minutes. This is an old Louisiana trick to allow you to put vegetables into a liquidy glop without them getting soggy and insipid. Then mix the whole mess by spoonfuls into the gently boiling beans and cook it some more.

Serve it in bowls. The traditional thing would be to do it with boiled potatoes, but we prefer it with bread. At this point a spoonful of apple cider vinegar would not be the least bit unwelcome. Neither would chopped parsley. Chopped hot peppers (note to Andras: Russo's in Watertown has Hungarian wax peppers) would treat it like an old friend. Enjoy.

It's a while since we have had a culinary post here, not because nobody has been eating.


András said...

Thanks for the tips about fasulye and peppers. I'll have to include Russo's on my next expedition to Watertown's Little Armenia. Unfortunately, despite the attractive red tin box featuring the Crown of St. Stephen and the map of Hungary, "Pride of Szeged" paprika is no substitute for the real thing which, as you point out, one has to have smuggled in from the Old Country. As far as I know it's not illegal to do so these days, but the real red powder is nevertheless hard to come by.

Eric Gordy said...

Another possible paprika source is Penzey's. They are mostly a catalog distributor of spices, but I am told (by my jealous sister) that they have opened a store in Arlington. Their online catalog features Hungarian paprika, but I can't report on quality.