Monday, July 8, 2013

Hungarian "Bruschetta"

I don't know how to explain this mandatory appetizer at past family cookouts.  I'm calling this 'Hungarian Bruschetta' so most can get a quick concept:  crusty bread, fresh tomatoes and onions; but, instead of the delicious and popular Italian way of adding olive oil and perhaps a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, we did it a different way.  We did it with bacon. . . a special bacon.

Our family cookouts were an anticipated tradition.  On the West Side of Cleveland, under the summer flight paths of low planes landing into Hopkins Airport next to the Ford plant where Grandpa worked, across from the railroad tracks and the Chevy plant (now GM), behind the UAW hall, I grew up with the men in my family guarding the grill cooking the special Hungarian bacon to drizzle it onto the bread.

I wish I knew the exact name of this.  Since my great-grandparents and grandparents did not teach my mom or uncle Hungarian, my brother and I didn't learn it, either.  If I knew the exact spelling I'd tell you, but I've only heard its 'proper name' as "Giddush Kenya."  My family also calls it "Greasy Bread."  The Hungarian bacon we use was pronounced "Sul' en ah."  Basically, it's smoked salt pork, only better, in my opinion.

All grandparents have not been with us for a while.  Since they have been gone, having this appetizer has become rare, but often discussed when we are together bringing up past memories.

For the Fourth of July weekend, Mom and I decided it was time to bring it back.

It's a bit time consuming, as you can only serve one or two at a time.  And, sometimes it's best to make it with two or more people.  When we were young, our uncle manned the grill while my brother and I were the runners, serving the slices to the the rest of the family talking at the picnic or kitchen table.  We served in a hierarchical manner.  Grandma got hers first as the Matriarch and the chef who prepared everything.  The grandfathers got their bread next when they were with us, then Mom and Aunt, adult cousins, then the kid runners, then my uncle who enjoyed his slice or two last with the crispy cooked bacon on top as he loaded the grill with Kolbaz (Hungarian Sausage) for dinner.

My husband and I had my uncle and aunt over with my mom and brother for a steak bbq this past holiday weekend.  Only in a Hungarian home like ours do families anticipate Greasy Bread just as much as grilled steak, especially after seven years or more since we've had it.

I has happy to take over the honors of Grill Master this year, and my husband was my runner.  This was the first time he's tried it after hearing about it for years.  His eyes just about rolled back into his head as he swallowed and said "That's right up there with the Hit Parade of Life," his expression when he really likes something.

I was proud to give my uncle the first slice.  And the last.  And all the cooked bacon.

You will need:

A 4 to 5 inch slab or 'brick' of salt pork or Hungarian bacon sliced in 1/4 to 1/2 inch slices.
   Locals in the Cleveland area can find the kind that we have bought for years at Dohar Meats in the West Side Market (stands F1 and F2 in one of the corners).  Entertainment Book owners can almost always find one of their coupons.

3 medium tomatoes chopped and seeded
2 medium onions chopped
1 teaspoon salt

12 slices of medium-sliced bread (Texas toast will be too thick, thin slices will be too soggy and messy).  Our favorites were crusty, fresh baked Italian and rye.

A seasoned Pie Iron

A hot grill.

Toss onions and tomatoes with salt and spoon onto bread.

Add sliced bacon.  Four slices should be enough for 2-4 slices of bread, depending how much fat you want to drizzle on each one.

Set on high flame.  Close lid if possible.

Once the bacon starts to sizzle and create drippings, carefully turn the iron sideways to drizzle onto the bread.  Then, press the hot iron down to heat through for about 10 seconds.

Release the bacon when it's crispy, charred and is producing no more drippings, then enjoy!


  1. The times I've visited Poland, we've had a similar thick type of bacon. Sounds like you're having a delicious summer so far!

    1. Kris, I'm sure you ate well! Yes, it's been most tasty! Hope yours has been as well!

  2. Bruschetta with special Hungarian bacon, that’s something new to me (since I only know the Italian version of bruschetta) but I Love it! Looks so delicious. I have a weakness for bacon so I just may have to try it. :)

    Charlene, I really enjoyed reading your family story, too. I could picture you and your brother running back and forth serving it while your uncle manned the grill. Nice that you got to be Grill Master this time. What a fantastic compliment you got when your husband loved it!!

    1. Thank you, Madilyn! Both duties were an honor. My uncle was the bast father I could ever have. He took us to see Star Wars half of the 20 times he went to see it. He kept a minature golf date with my brother and me, then went to the hospital to get a cast on a broken foot. He walked me down the aisle. I was most happy to see him relaxing in a chair on our deck enjoying the first and last slice with a smile on his face.

  3. I love the mixture of stories and recipes in your posts, and I simply LOVE bruschetta. I'll have to give this recipe a try, especially because it includes bacon -- another favorite. Congrats on your new "grill master" status!

    1. Janene, thank you so much! Food is more than food, isn't it? Please let me know if you try it!

  4. Looks very YUMMY! I know bruschetta only as Italian food! So interesting modification!