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Potato Lángos

Cook two large potatoes until soft. Mash them fine and let them cool. (or you could use potato flour if you can get it). Mix fresh yeast with warm water and set aside. In a deep dish mix together flour (for two potatoes, at least 2 1/2-3 pounds of flour will be needed), mashed potatoes, salt and a generous amount of Caraway seeds. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast mixture slowly. Start kneading, adding lukewarm water and flour as needed. The texture of the dough should be soft yet resilient. Knead until dough does not stick to knuckles, about 20-25 minutes. Generously flour bottom of a deep dish, place dough on top and sprinkle it with flour. Place, covered with a clean cloth, in a warm place and let rise overnight. Next morning, turn dough on a floured board, knead it gently and flatten it with a rolling pin, to about 1/4" thick. Let it rest. Cut the dough into squares and with the tip of a knife, make 2-3 small incisions in each, nicking the surface only and not cutting through the dough. Let it rest again. Heat the oil (in Hungary, lard was used) and carefully place the squares in it. They will start "puffing up" instantly. Fry until a golden brown and then turn to the other side. Serve hot, rubbed with fresh garlic cloves, or jam or just freshly sprinkled salt.

Original Lángos

NB. The following recipe was written by an Englishman, but under the guidance of his Hungarian girlfriend. Any mistakes or deviations from how lángos would be made in a Hungarian kitchen are entirely the fault of the Englishman.

Basically, make a dough with flour (ordinary flour), eggs (1 per person), yoghurt (or sour cream, milk or water) about 1 tablespoon per egg, yeast (use easy blend, or fresh, whichever you prefer), and salt (about half-a-teaspoon per egg).

The correct texture is really a matter of trial-and-error. It's not unlike an egg pasta dough, really, but rather less stiff. (As a guide, start with about 125g of flour per egg/yoghurt, then add more flour to get the dough right if needs be.)

Add the egg(s) to the flour (having added the yeast, if it's easy-blend), mix in enough yoghurt to make a dough, add the salt, and knead until the dough is pliant and not too sticky.

Leave to rise (oil the dough and cover the bowl to stop it drying out), then knock it back, knead some more, and then prove it. This is best done fairly cool, so the texture is fairly even - an overnight 'prove' is fine.

When you're ready to cook, heat up enough oil for deep-frying - about 2" is enough. (Traditionally, lard would be used, which would impart a really good flavour, but rapeseed oil is fine too). A wide-ish pan is best, as the lángos should be reasonably large. The oil should be hot enough so that when you put a very small piece of the dough into it, it drops to the bottom, and immediately rises up to the surface frying.

Take a lump of the dough (roughly a bit bigger than a ping-pong ball, but rather smaller than a tennis-ball) and flatten it into a disk shape. Do it by hand rather than using a rolling pin. Just keep pressing it between fingers and thumbs, and turning it round and round.

Make the centre of the disk fairly thin, and the edge rather thicker. It should end up about 8" across if possible. Don't worry over-much about getting it too circular and 'even' - the hand-made look is all part of their attraction.

Carefully slide the disk of dough into the oil and let it fry for 30 seconds or so. It should start to 'puff up' as it fries (if it doesn't, either the oil isn't hot enough, or the disk is too thick). Carefully turn it over. Fry for another 30 seconds or so. Turn it over and see if the underside is golden brown or not. If not, fry for a while longer until both sides are golden brown, with a 'puffed-up' surface. Adjust the frying times for subsequent ones accordingly.

Lángos are traditionally served with a pungent fresh garlic dressing. This is made by mincing up several cloves of garlic and mixing them into a small amount of oil and water, which is left to infuse for a while. You just spread the garlic dressing over the hot bread and eat. (Please don't use garlic salt or puree - you really need the flavour and 'bite' of the fresh stuff. In an emergency you could get away with using EPC 'Very Lazy Garlic'.)

You can also top lángos with crème fraîche or thick yoghurt (as a substitute for something called tejföl that you can't get outside of Hungary)**, and grated cheese (Edam is good) - as well as the garlic dressing, of course. We also found that fried lardons, or fried diced pancetta, are a good topping too - scattered on top of the garlic dressing, crème fraîche and cheese, naturally.

Three or four of these will leave you feeling pretty full, but if you've really hungry you could also have some good continental sausage (ideally Hungarian kolbász, naturally) to go with them.

    • The closest thing for tejföl in the UK is the sourcream. You can buy them in Tesco Sainsbury's and Morrisons.