Erdelyi Tokani with Puliszka!

Just for the heck of it, Transylvania Beef Stew! Utterly authentic!

You will need:

1/4 pound smoked slab bacon (I like center cut, uncured bacon, myself)

1 pound of stewing beef, such as top round or flank steak

1 pound of cubed lamb or mutton for stewing

(If you cannot find chunks of lamb for stewing, you can use 2 lbs of beef alone. Or, if you prefer lamb, use two pounds of lamb instead of beef.)

Five large yellow onions, finely chopped (About three or four cups)

Five cloves of garlic

“handfull” of fresh cilantro

three Bay Leaves

1/4 cup of olive oil

1/2 cup of pureed tomato (Roma Tomato)

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup beef broth

1 tsp salt

1 tsp coarse ground black pepper

1/4 tsp marjoram

1 tsp hot paprika

1 tsp sweet paprika

First, cut the bacon into two inch by 1/4 inch strips, and make sure the beef and/or lamb is in one to two inch cubes.

fry bacon in skillet until golden, but not crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a side dish. Fry the onions in the same pan until they turn translucent, adding olive oil as/if necessary. Scrape everything into a large flame proof casserole or stovetop tureen.

heat the olive oil in the same pan, and start to brown the cubed beef and lamb. When the meat is browned, transfer it into the same pot as the onion.

After this, stir the white wine into the tomato puree, then add the dry powdered spices to the pan, stirring everything together, and simmer for two minutes. When done, pour of the mixture over the beef and onion in the pot. Don’t worry if the sauce is thick.

Place the pot over a low fire and start to cook slowly. Stir regularly, and press or crush in the garlic cloves. Chop the cilantro (it needn’t be finely chopped) and stir it into the pot. Add the bay leaves also.

Cover and slow cook over the next couple of hours, gradually stirring in the beef broth. The onions should break down into a thick gravy. So if the stew is too thin, simmer it a bit longer until it thickens.

After a couple of hours, stir in the bacon (If you like). Simmer another half hour.

Ta-Dah! Serve with Puliszka! This is a very hearty and thick stew. So make sure you have your roughage that day as well.


Okay, now for– Puliszka, or rather, Mammaliga. It’s a kind of polenta. It’s something of the Romanian national dish, and most Hungarians who live in Transylvania love it, too. It’s a nice compliment to many meat dishes. You would use it in place of potatoes, whether boiled or mashed.

Here’s how I make it:  Mix one cup of stone-ground yellow corn meal into one cup of milk with a whisk. Lightly whip until smooth.

Bring three cups of water (or milk again, if you want it richer) to boil in a saucepan. When it begins to boil, stir in the cornmeal-milk mixture. Keep stirring until well mixed in, and lower the heat.

Add a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of coarse-ground black pepper, and a half teaspoon of garlic powder.

Continue to stir, and add anything from 1/2 to one whole stick of butter. Stir until butter is melted in.

Once the butter has melted into the mix, take the puliszka off the fire and cover for a couple of minutes.

It serves about four, and you can alter the proportions to suit how thick you like it, or how creamy you like it.

Many Romanians will add cheese to it on their plates– maybe goat cheese, or some other mildly pungent cheese.

I recommend it as a side with meat heavy stews, or plain grilled steaks. A nice red wine goes well with it, too, and you can eat it on its own. Only takes ten minutes to make, and very convenient. Of course, because of the dairy content, it isn’t kosher with meat—But so what? I used bacon in the stew recipe, and that ain’t kosher, either.

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a high school ESOL teacher, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in Beijing's Dongcheng district
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