Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes

Helen's Hungarian Heritage Recipes
Chef Ilona Szabo Reveals The Secrets of Hungarian Cooking

Monday, February 8, 2010


Kolozsvári Rakott Káposzta (also known as)

Erdélyi Rakott Káposzta

Making sauerkraut was a time honoured tradition in our home, on the farm as well as in the city. My father enjoyed making his own! Deli-quality sauerkraut is very delicious, but if you have access to fresh produce – why not use it for many varied dishes. Many Hungarian recipes call for sauerkraut. Canned or jarred should be rinsed and drained as it is a bit sour. Deli-style or farmer’s market fresh kraut might not need excessive rinsing. Soured cabbage is available in delis and supermarkets.

One evening, several of my friends gathered for a meal. It was my turn to bring the main coarse. The guests were Welsh, Ukranian, Scottish and of course, me – the Hot Hungarian. The girls were not quite sure what to make of this layered dish, but as soon as they tasted their first bite – they were in sauerkraut, pork and sour cream heaven. We managed to polish off the entire dish, 1 loaf of bread and 2 bottles of wine. Needless to say – the fact that it was Hungarian – just made the evening a truly memorable event.

This wonderfully delicious layered cabbage dish comes from the Transylvania region of Hungary called Erdelyi, or sometimes called Kolozsvár which is present day Romania- thus the name; Erdélyi Rakott Káposzta. It is actually three separate recipes which can be used alongside other dishes. But, because everything is layered in one dish, the flavours of all three, meld and marry and become even more delicious. And, tell me, who can resist pork, sour cream, sauerkraut and rice?

2 cups water
½ tsp salt
1 cup white long grain rice
2 cups sour cream
¼ cup milk
1 recipe Pork Pörkölt (see recipe below)
1 recipe Hungarian Sauerkraut (see recipe below)

Boil rice in salted water until rice is fluffy (20 minutes) and set aside. Prepare 1 Recipe Dinsztelt Savanyú Káposzta and set aside. Prepare 1 recipe Pork Stew -Diszno Pörkölt and set aside. When all 3 recipes are cooled to room temperature, you can prepare the layers ready for the oven.

In a large roasting pan or open baking dish, spread ½ the cooled stir-fried cabbage evenly on the bottom. Next, spread all of the cooked rice over the cabbage. Next, spoon over all of the pork stew and the yummy juices over the rice. Spread the remaining ½ of cabbage on the top – sealing in the edges.

Finally, in a large 2 cup measuring cup, combine sour cream and milk until smooth. Pour over the entire surface of the cabbage and bake in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes until cream is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Serving Suggestion: Fresh crusty bread and extra sour cream and a bold bottle of Hungarian Red Wine.

The recipes below are part of the complete layered dish. Follow directions as per instructions.

Dinstelt Savanyú Káposzta

Sauerkraut is not only affordable and plentiful, but it is full of healthy goodness - rich in antioxidants, vitamins that ward off illness. It was a mainstay of Austrian-Hungarian winter cuisine. In my humble opinion, this is comfort food at its best. The fairly simple method delivers serious amounts of flavour. The sauerkraut, gives a great tang and texture to the dish. I always add sour cream to everything, so go ahead - the sour cream mixture added at the end turns it into something truly heavenly!

1 28 oz jar/can sauerkraut
1 onion, minced
2 tbsp bacon grease
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
½ tsp sweet paprika

Rinse and drain sauerkraut thoroughly. Set aside. In a large pot, heat bacon grease and sauté onion just until starts to sweat. Add paprika and cook until onions are translucent. Add sauerkraut; cook 10-20 minutes, stirring constantly (in stir-fry method with a large wooden paddle spoon).

Serving Suggestion: As a vegetable side-dish, serve with hamburgers, fried pork butts, sausage or fried pork chops.

PORK STEW-Diszno Pörkölt

Yet another variation on the Pörkölt theme. Tender chunks of pork – is the start of some amazing layered meals such as Rakott Kaposzta, or Paradicsomos Kaposzta and many more.

1 lb pork shoulder, 2” cubes
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
4 tbsp shortening
1 tsp sweet paprika
⅛ tsp hot paprika
2 cups water
3 cloves garlic
hot red peppers (opt)
1 green pepper (opt)

In a large saute pan, heat the lard and fry the onions and garlic until they are just lightly browned. Add the paprika. Add the pork and stir until partially coated with the paprika and onion mixture. Add water to just cover the pork. Add pepper and hot red pepper. Cover and stew until tender, approximately 30-45 minutes.

Serving Suggestion: If using this as a main coarse, serve immediately with Fried Egg Dumplings - Pirított Tarhonya, rice or cubed potatoes or with Cabbage Dishes.

An Excerpt from the 440+ Hungarian Classic Recipes in the book called
Helen’s Hungarian Heritage Recipes – by Clara M. Czegeny

For more great recipes and to purchase this amazing cookbook - visit


Anonymous said...

Looks so good. My Hungarian grandmother used to make this and I have been looking for this recipe everywhere. Only difference is that she added tomatoes, but she would add tomatoes to even macaroni and cheese so no sure if that is usual or not. Anyway, can't wait to make it!

hothungarianchef said...

Thanks so much for your vote of confidence. The dish is better than it looks and it gets better every time you re-heat it. Add more sour cream and enjoy with thick slices of white crusty bread. And then when you fall in love, consider your own copy of our book - 440 recipes - All the classics.
PS - Chef Helen (my mother) was a trained chef. She's been perfecting these recipes for 70 years.

Judith said...

Hi there,
Yo napot kivanok
The spelling might not be right but your recepies are awesome. I am hungarian as well although we escaped in 1946. My mother was a great cook
And I'm not bad myself. I am in the process of makeing rokott kaposta at this very moment. I add a little caraway seed to my sauerkrout and some tomato to my porkolt instead of water.
Love your sight. Judit


Hi there. Thanks for your lovely comment. Do you have our cookbook? If you email me from the contact page on our website, I will provide a free ebook for your comment.

Kathy said...

Both sets of grandparents were from Hungary, my father's parents from Budapest and my mother's from Tinka (isn't that now in Romania?) and I make this all the time...it is my all time favorite food in the world! I make it a little different though, from your recipe. I don't wash the sauerkraut as I love the taste and do not add extra salt. Layer of sauerkraut, then rice then the pork then sour cream until all is used up, ending with the sauerkraut. My grandmothers and my mother used to make it just for the holidays but when I became an adult I decided it just wasn't a holiday dish any longer!
Love you site, it is amazing.

Kathy said...

Szia. My grandparents were from Hungary, one grandmother from Tinka (isn't that Romania now?) and the other 3 from Budapest. In my family, this was made a little differently but it all comes out the same. The sour cream was added on top of the pork layer, sauerkraut not washed (YUM) so no extra salt was added, no milk and the rice cooked in the oven with the rest of it. Oh boy, my mouth is watering as I type this! It was traditional in my family that this was served at holidays i.e. Christmas, New Year and Easter.
Now that I am an adult and make it for myself, I decided ANYTIME is a good time for layer cabbage. It is my favorite food from all cultures.
Thank you for this site, it is amazing. And thank you for getting a bit of our culture out in plain English for those who don't speak the language!


Thankyou Kathy. I love hearing how families connect with food. That's what it's all about - isn't it?

The video for this recipe is at Youtube. Enjoy

Email me your addy for a free Sumptuous Samplers ebook download.

Hot Hungarian

Jersey Transplant from SC said...

I just wanted you to know that I have a wonderful friend who is from Hungary, and her mother used to make this ALL THE TIME! I had seen other recipes, but they never seemed to taste as good - until this! It's the stir frying of the sauerkraut, I am sure, plus the way you layer it! YUM!


Thank you for your kind words. Yes, you are correct. The stir-frying is the secret. There is a similar recipe that keeps the sauerkraut a little soupy, but that's delicious too. It's called, Szekely Kaposzta from the town of Szekely. Please email me privately and I will be happy to provide you with a free Ebook - Sumptuous Samplers as our thankyou! dream_machine@rogers.com
Chef Clara