The holiday of Pentecost is rather difficult to grasp; people mainly associate it with the long weekend. What do we celebrate during this period? We have gathered some of the most important elements of Pentecost, and since food is an essential part of every holiday, especially in Hungary, we also wanted to share some traditional meals.
Pentecost is a Christian feast (with pagan and Jewish roots) celebrated on the fiftieth day after Easter Sunday. The expression comes from the Greek word ‘pentecostē’, meaning “fiftieth”. It commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and marks the birth of the Christian Church. According to the New Testament, Jesus’s disciples were in Jerusalem celebrating the Feast of Weeks, also known as Shavuot, taking place fifty days after Passover. It was originally an agricultural festival celebrating the harvest, but the bestowal of the Ten Commandments is also connected to this holiday.
Hungarians usually spend the long weekend relaxing, enjoying family dinners and events, or visiting the open-air baths around the country. Some believers go on a pilgrimage to Csíksomlyó to honour the Virgin Mary.
Traditional Pentecost dishes
Culinary traditions heavily depend on seasonal vegetables, fruits, and the ideal time for slaughtering certain animals. The majority of traditional Hungarian dishes are based on meat – lamb and poultry (mainly chicken) are the most common choices for Pentecost meals, said Mihály Sipos, a farmer and advocate for self-sufficient food production, to NlCafe. His book Fenntartható visszafejlődés (Sustainable regression) presents his journey from the initial difficulties to the establishment of a functioning self-sufficient family farm.
As the weather gets better, more people choose to cook outside, and lamb stew is a typical Pentecost dish. The mating of the sheep occurs in autumn and spring, so the lambs born at Christmas reach the ideal weight of 25−30 kilograms by this holiday.
Pentecost lamb stew
You can use any part of the lamb, except the offal, and leave the tallow on the meat to retain its distinctive flavour, advises the farmer. The stew is cooked over a low flame on small twigs in an hour and a half/two hours.
- Add the lard and the finely chopped onions to the pot and cook them until the onions get glossy and slightly yellowish.
- Remove the pot from the fire, add in the paprika, and stir it. It is important to remove the pot from the fire because paprika burns easily.
- Add in the diced meat, cook until they turn white, and season them with freshly ground pepper, salt, parsley, and tarragon.
- Add a little water, some grains of juniper berries, and the secret weapon: a handful of dried and crushed fairy-ring mushrooms.
- When the meat is almost ready, add some minced garlic. Stew is usually served with potatoes and salad.
Chicken soup and breaded chicken
Although geese and ducks are still young and thin at this time of the year, chickens and hens are great options. Breaded chicken breasts or legs are staple dishes in Hungary: cover the meat with the flour first, then with the beaten eggs, and then with breadcrumbs. Finally, fry them until they become crisp and golden brown. Serve with parsley potatoes. Older hens are ideal ingredients for chicken soup since they take more time to fry.
- Put the cleaned hen in the pot (without the head, the feet, and the offals), cover it with water, and slowly bring to a boil.
- When it comes to a boil, skim off the froth from the top of the liquid, and repeat as required.
- Add some salt, some whole peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, some nutmeg, 2 whole allspice seeds and cumin seeds.
- Put one whole onion, some garlic cloves, the cleaned and chopped root vegetables, some cabbage leaves, and peas to the pot.
- Cook on a very low heat for at least 2 hours.
- When the meat is almost tender, you can put the hen into the oven (pre-heated for 250 degrees) and bake it until the skin becomes crispy.
Lattice-top strawberry pie
A lattice-top pie crust is a good solution for juicy fruits, such as strawberry or cherry, because the structure allows for maximum evaporation. The juices released by the fruit cook down slowly while baking, and the filling does not become soupy.
for the dough:
20 dkg flour
10 dkg sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
a pinch of salt
10 dkg butter
1 egg yolk
(some sour cream)
for the filling:
50 dkg strawberries
20 dkg sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 egg yolk for the egg wash (it adds shine and colour)
- Separate the eggs (you will use one for the dough and one for the egg wash) and mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
- Combine this mixture with the cold butter, then add one egg yolk, and, if necessary, add some sour cream so that the dough does not crumble.
- Cover the dough and put it in the refrigerator to rest.
- Cut the strawberries in half and put them in a pot. Add the other ingredients (except the breadcrumbs) and cook until the strawberries release their juice.
- Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and drain the strawberries.
- Roll out two-thirds of the dough and spread it on the pie plate. Roll out and cut the rest of the dough into stripes. Put them in the refrigerator so they become a bit firm and easy to handle.
- Sprinkle the dough with breadcrumbs and spread the filling on top of it.
- Create the lattice from the pre-cut dough stripes, beat the egg yolk for the egg wash and coat the lattice with a thin layer.
- Bake until the top becomes light golden brown.