Esterházy chicken ragout

The Esterházys, one of the oldest aristocratic Hungarian families, were the largest land owners in Hungary and possessed a private fortune even larger than that of the Habsburg emperors whose supporters they were. Several members of the family held important governmental, ecclesiastical, diplomatic, and military posts in Hungary well into the 20th century.

The Esterházy family also produced patrons of the arts, who provided support to musicians, painters and architects. Some of the family members enthused over gastronomy as well, they were passionate about trying new foods and flavours, and that’s why we owe not only the famous cake but also this delicious ragout to the Esterházy family.

Experts of the gastronomy’s history can’t tell exactly who and when created this dish originally (sources mention four Esterházys between the 16th and 19th centuries), but it’s sure that the recipe was first published in the cookbook of Károly Gundel in 1934.

The original Hungarian name of the dish is Esterházy rostélyos, which means that it’s made from beef, using sirloin. Healthy food trends have however conquered this meal, too, and nowadays sirloin is often substituted by chicken and turkey.

The sourish-sweet flavour of the ragout sligthly resembles to the hunter style beef; mustard, sugar and lemon juice are the key ingredients that make the ragout special and outstanding. Density of the sauce depends on your taste: add less flour and sour cream if you want a thin sauce, while more flour and sour cream make the sauce thicker.

photo: zserbo.com

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp lard
  • 500 g (~1 lb) chicken breast, diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 parsley roots, peeled and diced
  • 50 ml (~1/4 cup) dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 150 ml (~2/3 cup) water
  • 2-3 heaping tbsp sour cream
  • 3/4-1 tbsp flour
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1/2 – 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2-1 tsp sugar

Heat lard in a sauté pan and fry the chicken until the meat turns white in colour and the meat juice boils away. Add finely chopped onions, give it a good stir, then add the root vegetables. Pour in white wine and water just enough to halfway cover the food. Add a bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Place a lid onto the pan and slowly simmer until tender (stir it regularly and add more water if needed).

In a small bowl whisk together sour cream, mustard, flour and 2/3 cup of water. Pour in the mixture and cook for further 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, flavour your ragout with lemon juice and sugar to taste. Serve with cooked pasta.

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