Hungarian shepherds used to carry a little pouch of dry egg barley. There are several versions of egg barley dishes, all frightfully similar. I have a small book of cauldron recipes and it’s almost impossible to tell them apart from the pictures. The only difference is what they put in beyond the basic ingredients, egg barley, bacon, onion, garlic and of course Hungarian Paprika. The rest of the ingredients vary, but end up tasting the same anyway. The shepherds cooked the egg barley in the open air, over the fire in a cauldron. If you have the inclination to make real egg barley, this is a fantastic dish cooked on the stove. However, last night I took the easy way out, I substituted the egg barley with Italian orzo pasta. This might not be everyone’s idea of using conveniences, because after all, the dish still needed to be babied. Hungarian cuisine takes a bit of effort, but that is why it’s so flavourful and homey. It was not bad with the orzo, and if reheated the following day, it gets even better, because by then the flavours have had a chance to mingle. Homemade egg barley has a very distinct flavour and while the orzo substitution works, it can never taste like the real thing. But as Jim says beggars can’t be choosers.
2 thick slices of bacon, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1-1/2 cups egg barley or orzo pasta
1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 garlic clove, minced
3 cups homemade stock
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 stick dry spicy sausage, sliced very thin [I used chorizo]
1 tomato, diced
1/4 yellow or red pepper, diced
salt and pepper to taste
• Fry the bacon bits in a deep non-stick sauté pan until transparent.
• Add the diced onion and continue to sauté for 1 minute.
• Add the orzo pasta and fry them for about five minutes, continually turning them over so they crisp up at the same rate.
• Add the Hungarian paprika and stir to cover the orzo.
• Immediately add 1 cup of stock.
• Add the chopped potatoes.
• Add the remaining stock and bring to slow simmer.
• Cover the pan and slowly cook until potatoes are tender.
• Add the sliced sausage and the diced tomato and pepper.
• Adjust the salt and sprinkle with pepper.
• By this time, the stock should be minimal. Turn down to the lowest setting, cover and let dish warm for five more minutes.
• Makes 4-6 servings