Pork continues to get big press with the food media, but it’s been a basic food group in Central Europe for decades. In Budapest, Hungary, when Ms. Tomato was there some years ago cooking and avoiding the inevitable return to California, butchers opened doors early with a three-foot mound of chilled, rendered pig fat on the counter, doled it out in slabs all day long, and sold out by dinner time.
Pork crackling scones, called pogácsa, (pronounced pogatchaw) were featured at every bar and cocktail party, often accompanied by chilled Tokai wine or killer apricot brandy called Palinka.
Some bakers add yeast and potato to the little buns, others skip the added leavening and follow an elaborate process of folding and resting the dough several times, much like a croissant. In the end, the secret ingredient is the same. It’s all about the pork.
This recipe is not authentic, but a personal rendition of the real thing that is a little lighter and crunchier. We've also cut them in a bite-size format so they work as an appetizer. The true, Hungarian pogácsa is usually the size of a hockey puck and twice as tall, not allowing much room for further eating. And is really good with booze.
Pogácsa (Pork Crackling Scones)
Makes about 4 dozen cocktail size scones
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 tsp white pepper
2 oz pork crackling or crispy bacon, chopped fine (1/2# raw bacon)
6 Tbsp brick shortening, chilled
1/2 cup sour cream
1 egg, separated
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt and pepper together. Mix in the crackling or bacon. Cut the shortening into the flour with a pastry cutter until it resembles a coarse meal.
In a separate bowl, mix sour cream and egg yolk together. Mix with the dry ingredients until barely combined and still crumbly.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured counter and, using the heel of the hand and a pastry scraper, push the dough away from you, scraping it back and pushing away until it just comes together in a ball.
Roll it out to 1/2” thick. Cut rounds with a very sharp 1” cookie cutter and place them on a baking sheet.
Mix the egg white with a tbsp water. Brush the tops of the scones lightly, being careful not to let any drip down the sides. Bake 16 to 20 minutes, until slightly golden on top. Best served warm or room temperature with cocktails.