Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not Your Mother's Goulash: Authentic Hungarian Goulash

When I was a kid, and my mother said we were having "goulash" that was Hungarian for  "going to bed hungry."  After the obligatory guilt trip about the "starving children in China" and the threat of never leaving the table until I cleaned my plate, I typically won the battle, left the Evil Goulash at the table and went to bed, not really caring about those kids in China.  If they were desperate enough to eat that mess, Mom could pack that "goulash" up and send it to them.  In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where goulash is also popular, the word "guláš" means "mishmash."  My mother apparently took this translation literally for what she called "goulash" was a "mishmash" of elbow macaroni, mystery meat and mystery sauce.  I think it was some secret plan to clean out the refrigerator, put every thing in one pot, and pass it off as an "exotic dinner."  I did not think I liked goulash until adulthood when I actually found out what authentic Hungarian Goulash really was.  Hungarian goulash is neither a soup nor a stew, it’s somewhere in between. Authentic "gulyás" is a beef dish cooked with onions, Hungarian paprika powder, tomatoes and green pepper.  Enjoy!  Not a piece of elbow macaroni in sight!
The Hungarian Goulash Party!
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven. 
Add onions and sugar.
Saute until onions are caramelized.
(This takes awhile, be patient.)
Add caraway seed and garlic to onion mixture.
Saute garlic and caraway seed for 1 minute.
Add herbs and spices and saute an
additional minute until fragrant.
Add tomato paste.  This mixture will be very thick.
Deglaze with balsamic vinegar
and chicken stock. 
Be sure to scrape up all the bits
from the bottom of the pot. 
Add beef cubes and beef bouillon. 
Season well with salt and pepper.
Cook until beef is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. 
Add green pepper and cook 10 minutes longer.
Stir in 2 tablespoons sour cream. 
See how dark and rich the goulash has
become after cooking for 1 1/2 hours?
Serve over spaetzle, noodles or mashed potatoes.
This AIN'T your mother's goulash!

Hungarian Goulash
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil
2 large white onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon caraway seed
1 1/2 tablespoons Hungarian Paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons marjoram
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 cubes beef bouillon (I used Better Than Bouillon)
2 1/2 pound stew meat, cubed
salt and pepper to taste
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sour cream, plus more for garnish (optional)

In a Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onions and sugar until caramelized.  Add garlic and caraway seed and cook for 1 minute.  Add paprika, cayenne, marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf.  Saute an additional minute until mixture becomes fragrant.  Add tomato paste.  Deglaze with balsamic vinegar and chicken stock.  Add beef and bouillon cubes.  Season well with salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer until beef is very tender, approximately 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.  Add green bell pepper and continue to simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf.  Stir in 2 tablespoons sour cream, mixing well.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if desired.  Serve over spaetzle, noodles or mashed potatoes.  Top with additional sour cream if desired.

Prep Time:  Approximately 25 minutes     Cook Time:  Approximately 1 hour 40 minutes

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