Food and my dad

I grew up in a predominantly Hungarian household when food was concerned. My dad came to Canada after the Revolution in 1956. He spent time as a refugee in parts of what was Yugoslavia, then lived in Italy and France for various lengths of time before coming to Canada. He brought with him a rich culinary tradition learned from his mother. As I grew up I enjoyed many pork-related dishes. In Hungary, the pig is always the protein of choice as most people have at least one or two pigs in their yard as well as their own smokehouse to hang various homemade charcuterie: bacon, sausages and other smoked meat.

My dad struggled with heart problems through much of my teenage years and into my twenties. After pacemakers and various medications did little to help, he finally succumbed to a massive stroke a few days before Christmas in 1997.

While he was alive, I learned many dishes from his native Hungary and subsequently read and researched many more recipes traditional to his youth. I also use many techniques done in Hungarian cuisine and give it twists, as I invariably do with much of my cooking style.

With almost 15 years passing since my father’s death, I always keep his memory with me by cooking something I thought he would enjoy. This Father’s Day I thought I’d make a brunch-style meal including elements of my youth. Czabai, a dry cured, smoked Hungarian sausage was used for many things growing up: flavouring stews, cabbage rolls, casseroles or eaten on its own. I thought I’d fold it into some eggs as a part of a twist on a Steak and Eggs idea.

In the place of steak, I wanted to make a staple of my dining youth: Bécsi szelet or Hungarian-style pork schnitzel. We had this almost weekly for the bulk of my youth with mashed potatoes and a simple vegetable side.

Czabai Eggs with Bécsi Szelet

Bécsi Szelet (Hungarian pork schnitzel)

4 Sunshine Organic pork cutlets (about 100g/4oz each)

1 cup Gold Forest Grains soft white flour

2 Sunshine Organic large eggs

5 or 6 slices of rye bread (I get mine from either Bliss Baked Goods, Artistic Bake Shop or Empress Bakery in Edmonton)

3 Tbsp garlic powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup Mighty Trio Organics canola oil

Preheat oven to 90C/200F.

Tear up the bread, place on a baking sheet and dry in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes. One can also simply leave the torn bread pieces in the oven while the oven is off overnight to dry. Grind the dried bread in a food processor until fine breadcrumbs are achieved. Set in a medium bowl. Stir in the garlic powder and salt.

In another medium bowl, add the flour. In a third medium bowl, whisk the eggs with a few tablespoons of water. Dredge each pork cutlet in the flour, patting the flour on each cutlet to ensure thorough coverage. Proceed to dredge the floured cutlet into the beaten egg, then into the spiced breadcrumbs, again patting the breadcrumbs on each cutlet to ensure thorough coverage. Set on a plate and allow the breading to set for at least 20 minutes.

In a heavy-bottomed pan (cast iron is best), heat 1/3 cup canola oil over medium high heat. Fry each breaded cutlet for 4-5 minutes per side. Drain on a clean kitchen towel and place on a baking sheet in the preheated oven to keep warm while preparing the egg dish.

Czabai Eggs

2 Tbsp Mighty Trio Organics canola oil

1/2 cup sliced onions

1 link czabai, cubed into 1cm/1/2″ pieces (or other dry cured smoked sausage), about 1 cup.

6 Sunshine Organic large eggs, beaten.

In a large non-stick pan, sauté the onions and sausage in 2 Tbsp canola oil (If the sausage is too dry, which it is prone to become, add 1/2 cup water, and allow to absorb into the sausage) until the onions become deeply golden. Add the beaten eggs and stir constantly with broad folding motions to scramble the eggs around the sausage and onions. Split the egg dish over 4 plates and serve with a prepared pork cutlet. Serves 4.

Image

Czabai Eggs with Bécsi Szelet (Hungarian style pork schnitzel).

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2 comments

  1. supersu · July 1, 2012

    nice!
    i too remember my dear old dad on fathers day with some sort of meal tribute.
    i had a juicy (‘pink is fine – just eat it!’ – his words) homemade burger (his favorite, and actually my choice of meat when i eat it too), and a mcflurry (cuz that ‘OTHER place is too damn expensive!’ -again his words- ha ha ha)…..
    it is amazing to me how FOOD can evoke such memories –

    cheers to dad!

    • tripleheartbeat · July 1, 2012

      I remember him in little ways all the time. On Saturdays at City Market, the Budapest Deli has a tent and I always buy this little biscuit made with smoked pork crackling. Crazy good. Just little things keep him with me.

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