Not All Kolbasz Is Alike
Kolbasz (KOOL-bahss) is the generic Hungarian word for sausage. The varieties are dizzying as each region in Hungary has its own take on standard sausages.
They can be baked or boiled, dried or smoked and in mild, medium or spicy heat varieties. Hungarian sausages are eaten as cold cuts with bread or on appetizer trays or used to flavor stews, soups, goulash, salads and other dishes.
How They Are Made
Most Hungarian sausages are made with fine or coarsely ground pork, beef or lamb, and spices that can include paprika, black pepper, allspice, white pepper, caraway, nutmeg, marjoram, cayenne pepper, sugar, salt, garlic, white wine or cognac.
Sausages meant to be eaten fresh (unsmoked or uncured) sometimes include liver, mushrooms, bread, rice, eggs, cream or milk. The ground sausage mixture is then stuffed into natural casings -- the small intestines of pigs -- in long round coils or sectioned off into 12-inch lengths.
In the days before refrigeration, sausage-making was done in cold weather at pig-slaughtering time and the meat scraps went into the mix. The uncooked stuffed sausages were allowed to cure overnight in the open air before using fresh or being smoked.
Types of Fresh and Smoked Sausages
- Gyulai Kolbasz: This beech wood-smoked sausage is named after the Hungarian town of Gyula and is made from pork, szalonna (Hungarian bacon fat), garlic, pepper, caraway, and a Hungarian red paprika. It can be eaten alone, with bread or added to other dishes like lesco or rakott burgonya.
- Csabai Kolbasz: This spicy sausage with lots of paprika is made in the town of Bekescsaba. It is similar to gyulai sausage but spicier and with more paprika.
- Csemege Kolbasz: This is a mildly spiced cooked smoked sausage made from beef and pork.
- Hazi Kolbasz: This simply means homemade fresh, unsmoked sausage and can vary by region. Usually, it is made with pork shoulder, garlic, salt, pepper, sweet paprika and water. Some people add cloves and lemon zest to their mixture. See how hazi kolbasz is made.
- Cserkesz Kolbasz: This is a cooked smoked sausage made from beef and pork.
Types of Lightly Smoked Sausages
- Debreceni Kolbasz (or Debrecener): This pork sausage, heavily spiced with paprika, garlic, pepper, and marjoram, is reddish-orange in color and named after the Hungarian city of Debrecen. It usually is unsmoked or lightly smoked and baked, broiled or fried and used in dishes like lecso.
- Lecsokolbasz: This spicy sausage is made specifically for lecso.
Types of Boiled Sausages
- Majas Hurka - Liver Sausage: The main ingredients are liver and rice with salt, pepper, and spices.
- Veres Hurka - Blood Sausage: Blood, rice or bread, spices including marjoram, pepper, and salt go into this sausage.
Other Types of Cooked Sausages
- Virsli: This is very similar to an American hot dog except longer and thinner. It is boiled and eaten with bread and mustard.
- Párizsi: Also known as parizer or Paris sausage, this is a larger, thicker version ofr virsli, above. It's a lot like American bologna.
Hungary's most famous salami is téliszalámi, also known as winter salami. It's made from Mangalitsa pork and spices including white pepper, allspice, and others. Winter salami is cured in cold air and slowly smoked.
The mold that forms on the surface of the casing (known as a moble mold), is a sure sign that you are eating authentic Hungarian salami.