Rác oldalas – Serbian pork ribs

by | Apr 28, 2023 | Meat dishes

The presence of Serbs in Hungary dates back to the medieval period when they settled in the region as part of the wider migration of Slavic peoples. During the Ottoman period, many Serbs fled to Hungary to escape the Ottoman invasion and occupation of Serbia, which led to a significant increase in the Serbian population in Hungary.

Serbian cuisine has had a significant influence on the culinary traditions of Hungary, particularly in the southern regions of the country, in the areas of Bács-Kiskun, Csongrád and Békés counties, where a large Serbian minority lives. Some popular Serbian dishes have become a part of the Hungarian cuisine and are widely enjoyed by both Hungarians and Serbs living in Hungary.

The Hungarian word ‘rác’ used in the name of many dishes indicates the Serbian origin of those foods. Rácbab and gyuvecs are iconic dishes of the Serbian cuisine, which are also loved by Hungarians. Rác oldalas is a lesser-known recipe that bears the stamp of the Serbian influence too. It implies oven-baked pork ribs with bacon, potatoes, peppers and tomatoes.

Rác oldalas - Serbian pork ribs
Rác oldalas – Serbian pork ribs – photo: zserbo.com


  • 800 g (~1 3/4 lbs) pork ribs
  • 70 g (~2 1/2 oz) smoked pork fat
  • 100 g (~3 1/2 oz) smoked slab bacon
  • 3 medium onions
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 300 g (~2/3 lb) sweet wax or red peppers
  • 300 g (~2/3 lb) tomatoes
  • 1 kg (~2 1/4 lbs) potatoes
  • 350 g (~3/4 lb) sour cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp sweet paprika powder
  • 1/2 ground caraway seeds
  • 2 tbsp lard

Cut the ribs into serving-size portions. Salt and pepper them.

Peel and slice the potatoes (3-4 mm / 1/8 inch thick), and keep them in cold water until they are used.

Chop smoked pork fat and slab bacon. Slice the onions, mince the garlic cloves.

Smoked pork fat and smoked slab bacon
Smoked pork fat and smoked slab bacon – photo: zserbo.com

Peel and chop the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the peppers (I used kápia peppers).

In a sauté pan cook the chopped pork fat until it releases enough lard and becomes crispy. Add slab bacon and fry until crisp. Add chopped tomatoes and cook for about 8-10 minutes until it thickens. Stir in minced garlic, sliced onions and chopped peppers, season with salt, pepper, ground caraway seeds and 1 teaspoon of paprika. Cover the pan and cook over medium heat until tender (do not add water).

Lecsó – photo: zserbo.com

While the vegetables are cooking, in a separate pan heat 2 tablespoons of lard and sear the ribs for 1 minute on each side.

In a small bowl mix together sour cream, some salt and 1 teaspoon of paprika powder.

Grease a baking pan or casserole dish with lard. Drain the potatoes and salt them. Place half of the potato slices in the bottom of the dish. Spread one-third of the sour cream onto the potatoes, then place the ribs onto them. Scoop the lecsó (pepper-tomato-onion stew) over the meat, and cover with the remaining potatoes. Finally, spread the rest of the sour cream on the top.

Layering: potatoes, sour cream, ribs – photo: zserbo.com
Tomato-pepper-onion stew – photo: zserbo.com
Potatoes, sour cream – photos: zserbo.com

Cover the dish with a lid or a sheet of aluminum foil, put in the oven and bake at 180°C / 356°F for 90-100 minutes. Once the ribs and potatoes are soft and tender, remove the lid or aluminum foil, and bake at 200°C / 392°F (with fan) for further 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Rác oldalas - Serbian pork ribs
It’s done – photo: zserbo.com

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Hungarian cottage cheese

This is what Hungarian túró looks like

You often ask me what kind of cottage cheese (or curd cheese or farmer's cheese - call it what you want) I use in the recipes. In Hungary the store-bought cottage cheese is dry and crumbly as you can see in the picture. So if a recipe calls for túró, I mean this type. If you can't obtain túró, you can try to make your own from whole milk. Click on the link below.

Metric system vs cup

In Hungary metric units are in use, all the recipes on this website are based on this system, so a kitchen scale is necessary. Since I’m not familiar with cup as a measurement unit, I convert grams to cups by using an online converter. The values in brackets, therefore, are only approximate volumes, so, please, double-check them before you start cooking.

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