Hungarian Goulash

In Hungarian, “gulyas” refers to certain traditional breeds of native cattle. So the dish made from parts of cow is also called “cow.” The Germans and others modified the spelling, and Americans call it goulash. It is a beef soup made with paprika, beef, onions, and either potatoes or flat noodles, and other spices. There are a large number of variations on the dish, some with tomato paste added, others with hot peppers (go easy on those), more or less garlic, and other vegetables. Viennese Goulash includes bell pepper, unless it doesn’t. Goulash as I ate it in Hungary was a hearty soup, not a thickened stew, but however you make it, you need meat, paprika, and onions. No, this is NOT an excess of onions. Trust me. They vanish.

two pounds good stew meat

two large onions, minced (I use white because that’s what’s been available)

two carrots (if desired) chopped

fat or oil for browning

1 T. good paprika, hot or sweet*. (I go heavier on the paprika)

2 C potato, chopped into chunks, OR one package flat noodles

1 dollop of garlic

beef broth

one or two glugs** red wine (optional)

In a large stew pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil or fat to a shimmer. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the stew meat and garlic (if desired). Add beef stock and water to cover, and the wine if desired. Stir in paprika and carrot. Reduce heat to simmer and let cook for 90 minutes or so. Check the flavor after about half an hour and add paprika if needed or desired. Add water as needed, or more broth. If you are using very inexpensive (tough) stew meat, cook as long as needed to reach tenderness.

If using potatoes, add after 90 minutes and let simmer for another half hour or until potatoes are done. For pasta, turn up heat, add more liquid, and add pasta. Check pasta after 20 minutes or so. Alternatively, cook potatoes or pasta separately, drain, and add to goulash for the last 10 minutes.

Serve in bowls with good, hearty bread or sharp slaws and salads on the side. Or both.

*Hungarian sweet is traditional. Smoked or hot can also be used, but I prefer to start with the Hungarian sweet.

**A glug seems to be about a quarter cup, depending on the size of the bottle and the duration of pour.


7 thoughts on “Hungarian Goulash

  1. I got a pack of “expiring day” stew beef, too. I was planning to make stew, but this in a slow cooker sounds a lot better.

    My dollop is about 4 cloves of garlic. Might add part of an Anaheim for some spiky flavor.

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