Sólet, the slow cooked Jewish-Hungarian stew

by | Nov 26, 2021 | Meat dishes

Jewish communities have been living in Hungary for nearly 1000 years. The result of this long-term Jewish-Hungarian co-existence is the appearance of Jewish foods – like flódni, latkes, matzo ball soup and sólet – as standards in the Hungarian repertoire. Sólet (pronounciation: “sho-let”) is a Jewish-Hungarian dish, a traditional slow cooked stew. It’s usually prepared on Friday before Sabbath, simmered overnight in the oven, and eaten the following day for lunch. This is done to conform to Jewish laws that prohibit cooking on Sabbath day.

It’s important to get it right: there is no authentic sólet recipe. My sólet is not necessarily your sólet. Everyone has their own sólet recipe, and family recipes are passed down from generation to generation. Variations abound, but all agree that for a good sólet you need meat (both smoked and regular), beans and barley.

If there is one constant in sólet making, it’s the low and slow rule. Sólet is cooked at a low temperature between 90 and 150°C (194-302°F) for several hours. It’s generally simmered in the oven; however, it can also be made in a slow cooker.

The quality of sólet depends on the meat you use. Beef is a typical ingredient, which is combined with some smoked meat. The latter can be smoked goose breast, thighs, or duck, or smoked beef tongue. Sólet is also a popular meal among non-Jewish Hungarians, who often break the kosher rules by making sólet with pork including smoked ham hocks or sausage.

Theoretically, sólet can’t be cooked in small quantity, a normal recipe serves at least 10. I had to find the middle ground between cooking a classic sólet and not eating it for weeks. My recipe was inspired by Spicy Eszter (expert of Jewish foods) and Szoky, their recipes give the base of my sólet, I just halved the quantities.

Sólet, the slow cooked Jewish-Hungarian stew
Sólet, oven baked Jewish-Hungarian stew – 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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