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 abált bacon

bacon before

I could find no true translation for the word "abált" in my dictionary. The word describes how the bacon is prepared, similar to boiled or simmered, yet that would  explain only part of the "abáló" process. As you know there are mysterious and untranslatable facets of the Hungarian cuisine. Now weather the bacon is "abált" or has been prepared in a number of different ways, the one thing that remains that it is fully cooked and eaten cold with a thick slice of rustic bread. This is the quintessential food you take on a trip or put in front of the guest who drops by. Canadians are horrified that we are eating fat and then consume copious amounts of fried foods and snack time treats and all these are soaked with, what else, fat. But Hungarian szalonna is not fat, it’s bacon. And weather you fry it or "abál" it, in the end, makes no difference, except maybe to Hungarians. Hungarians LOVE abált szalonna!

1 lb slab of smoked bacon (not sliced)
3 + 1 cloves of garlic
3 tsp Salt
Hungarian Paprika

• Place the bacon, 3 cloves of garlic and 3 tsp of salt in a saucepan.
• Cover with cold water and place on the stove.
• Bring it to simmer and gently cook for 30 minutes.
• Remove from heat and place the bacon on a platter.
• Reserve the broth.
• Mince the remaining garlic and add to a small bowl.
• Stir in 1 Tbsp of Hungarian paprika.
• Add a tiny bit from the reserved broth to make a paste.
• Spread the top of the bacon with the paprika paste.
• Discard the broth.
• Let the bacon cool to room temperature and then refrigerate.
• Chill thoroughly before serving.


  1. This is something I'm going to dream about... I know where to buy very good smoked bacon and I still have Hungarian paprika. I can't understand why some people still believe fat is worse than sugar (and carbs in general...). I know from my own experience carbs (good French bread especially) kill my waistline, and not fats... I'm having fat duck liver tonight :-) so not very low-fat either.
    By the way, when I was small my mum used to prepare pork fat (but the white thick part, not bacon) by covering it with a thick layer of paprika for several weeks. Then we would have the thin,almost transparent, slices of this pork fat on bread, all sprinkled with salt... My mum was saying apparently it was the Hungarian way of preparing it. Is it true? I would love to do this one day, just have to find fresh pork fat (not easy here, I would have to try to order at my French butcher's probably).

  2. Yes, yes, your mom was correct, that's the way to do it! But you need very thick and tender pork fat for it and not the tough, thin slabs of meaty pork we get here.

    Hungarian bacon is fully cured and requires no cooking. Canadian bacon on the other hand is only partially cured so it’s still raw. I am not sure how this recipe would work with fully cured bacon, but partially cured bacon is the perfect substitution for it.

  3. I'm making this recipe as I write this!!!! Woohooo....I dream about it also...only eat it once a year....

  4. My mother has made this for years! Love it.

  5. Anonymous6.6.16

    We use to put the SZALONNA on a stick, put it over the fire until it started to drip and we would let the dripping fall on fresh rye bread and put some sliced cucumber on it and eat it at a picnic. Delish.

    1. Nonono. Not cucumber. Green onion. You got to have green onion!

    2. Anonymous12.8.16

      we use to do this also, only we dripped the grease on a bread with onions and paprika on it oh such love.

    3. Anonymous22.4.17

      There were different toppings but I liked the cucumber one as a child. I could not wait for Memorial Day and the family picnic at Roosevelt Park. Joelle Estok Christiansen

  6. Anonymous11.8.16

    But I can't get green onion all year round!

    In any case, not to worry about onions, I'm just here after looking up Hungarian slab bacon with paprika, trying to find the recipe for the wonderful bacon a Hungarian friend gave me back in the late 50s in New Jersey! I just had it once & it's still haunting me, so I can't wait to get a slab of smoked bacon from my local producer (here in France) & try your recipe. Thanks so much, Zsuzsa! I'll let you know how it turns out!


  7. Anonymous12.8.16

    Oh how we loved this growing up!!!! I never watch how my mom and grandma made it. They made it every year after we had a hog slaughtered at the butcher. But I think they used much more garlic. They slathered it with the mix like you discribed and wrapped it in plastic wrap and refrigerated it for several weeks. We would slice it and we ate it with rye bread.

  8. Anonymous27.1.17

    thank you ZSuzsa...koszonom szepen ....I almost forgot how good paprika szalona son tried it in Budapest last year .well he is hocked actually the last bite was provided by is good with everything especially a glass of wine..

  9. Anonymous27.1.17

    koszonom szepen...

  10. Yes. Brings back the past.we grow and process our own pork. The ideal bacon is mostly all the tender lower fat. We cure it with a strong brine and double smoke it. Not sure if this is how it's made but that's what I do. Then comes the paprika coating and cooking a little bit. Sometimes we just triple hot smoke and she'd good to go. All good and it's cooked. Don't know why they call it raw?




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