Over the Easter break I decided to try a new recipe. I broke from British traditions and went in search of Hungarian Easter fare. For the Hungarian celebration of Easter, the table is richly laden, like most East European countries! Alongside slices of fragrant ham, sits a braided Easter loaf, eggs, grated horseradish, lamb dishes and poppy-seed cake. I have always been rather partial of gammon so I thought I would give that a go.
Although the Hungarians appear to cook their ham quite simply, I chose to also add the following in order to make a delicious stock which I could use immediately or freeze:
Black Pepper Corns
Soak the uncooked ham in cold water for several hours to extract the excess salt.
If the ham is smoked, soak overnight.
Rinse, then place the ham in a large saucepan with plenty of water.
(At this point I chose to add carrot, celery, peppercorns, and parsnip)
Bring to the boil, and simmer slowly.
The ham is tender when a fork easily pierces the rind and the bone can be turned easily.
Leave the ham to cool in the cooking liquid.
Just plate it up in portions for your guests…
The Hungarians would then boil eggs in the cooking liquid, peel them, cut into halves or quarters, and serve with the Easter meal. However, I opted to serve the ham hot with a Creamy Mushrooms and Aubergines, the recipe of which will be posted in Part 2. I have retained the stock to use to make soup the same way my Grandmother taught my Mother to.
Another Hungarian Easter tradition is the annual water fight. The originated when young men would sprinkle girls with cologne. The tradition evolved so young farmhands could throw a bucket of cold water over girls of marriageable age. Although the girls scream and resist, they are said to be secretly delights (though if someone threw a bucket of cold water over me, I think I would be less than happy to put it mildly). This tradition is not solely acted out in Hungary, it is also popular in Poland and many British Poles even take part in the ritual.