The origins of Hungarian meatballs come from a traditional meal “töltött paprika,” meaning stuffed peppers. Hungarians often serve meatballs alongside the stuffed peppers when making an excess of meat stuffing.
The ingredients of meatballs happen to match those in peppers’ stuffing. Although many of the world’s cuisines possess meatballs and stuffed peppers in their recipe books, Hungarian combinations of ingredients influences this meal in countries throughout Central Europe and the Balkans. Generally in these areas, meatballs consist of ground beef or pork as well as a 1:1 ratio blend, rice, onion, garlic, caraway seeds, ground sweet paprika, salt, and pepper. Parsley is also a common ingredient in Croatia.
The Tomato Sauce
As the spice blends vary slightly from country to country, so does the sauce. Tomato sauce ranges from sweet and smooth to salty and spicy, optionally with sweet pepper for more enhanced flavor.
The plating differs from family to family. Some people prefer to eat meatballs from an entree plate with plain boiled potatoes, while others enjoy this dish from a soup plate with meatballs and sauce only.
Hungarian Meatballs In Tomato Sauce
- Medium-size bowl
- 5 qt pot
- Hand blender
- 1 medium-size yellow onion, cubed
- 3 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups white rice
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp caraway seeds
- 1 tbsp ground sweet paprika
- 2 large eggs
- ground black pepper
- 1 sweet banana pepper or Hungarian wax pepper, chopped, seeded
- 5 lbs. canned San Marzano tomatoes with juice
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tsp Tabasco sauce
- 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp garlic salt
- Add one tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and saute the chopped sweet banana pepper for three to four minutes on high, stirring occasionally.
- Pour in the canned tomatoes, including juice. Bring to boil.
- While the tomato sauce is heating up, prepare the meatballs. In a medium-size bowl, mix two cups of raw rice with cubed onion. Continue with adding the ground beef, minced garlic, one tablespoon of sweet ground paprika, two tablespoons of salt, one tablespoon of ground black pepper, one tablespoon of caraway seeds, and one tablespoon of olive oil. Combine these ingredients with a hand. The last step is adding two eggs, again, combine with hand and form the meatballs. Set aside.
- When the chopped pepper in the pot is soft, mix all the ingredients with a hand blender until there are no chunks of pepper or tomato. Add one teaspoon of garlic salt, one teaspoon of ground black pepper, one teaspoon of lemon juice, one teaspoon of Tabasco sauce, and two bay leaves. Cover and let simmer on low for ten minutes.
- It's time for meatballs! One by one, carefully add the meatballs to the sauce. Cover and cook for an hour and a half to two hours.