When I was a child, lo those many decades ago, Goulash was often our Sunday dinner. This was the version my mother made, but I’ve added a few updates. My father loved this dish and you will too..it’s pure comfort. Okay, you caught me…January is supposed to be all soup recipes and this isn’t a soup, but rather a stew. Just get over it and make this. All is not lost, because if soup is what you want, add extra broth and voilà…soup! Goulash is a perfect dish for a casual dinner party and to feed those you love. It offers warm, filling comfort and huge flavor. This will need a full-bodied red wine or a good dark beer and some great bread.
Sunday Night Goulash
- 2 tablespoon bacon fat or oil
- 2 1-pound pieces chuck steak
- Salt and pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons dried chopped shallots
- 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1-2 teaspoons caraway seeds (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
- 1 teaspoon porcini mushroom powder (ground porcini mushrooms)
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 14-ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, undrained
- 1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 cup bell pepper strips (I used frozen)
- 1-2 cups beef broth (to maintain liquid level and for the sauce)
- 2 teaspoons arrowroot mixed with 1 tablespoon water (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons smoked sweet paprika
- Sour cream (to serve)
- Cooked noodles, mashed potatoes, polenta or cooked rice (to serve)
Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper. Lay the pieces of meat, side-by-side, in the hot pan. Do not move for 3 minutes. Repeat on the second side. Remove from the pan; set aside. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pan.
Add the bay leaf, onions, garlic, thyme and caraway (if using) to the pan drippings. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened. Add the paprika, mushroom powder, cloves and diced tomatoes with their juice. Deglaze the pan; cook until almost all the liquid has evaporated, scraping the brown bits (the fond) off the bottom of the pan. Push the onion mixture aside; return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pan. Redistribute the onion mixture around the meat. Sprinkle the carrots over the meat; then the pepper strips. Add some of the broth to the pan; the mixture should be almost covered in liquid, but not quite. Use the broth if needed, to maintain this level of liquid. Cover the pan and cook over low heat; the mixture needs to braise for about 2 hours or until the meat is falling apart and the carrots are tender. Using 2 forks, pull the meat apart, leaving it in bite-sized pieces. Stir in the smoked paprika (use whatever amount to reach the desired smokiness); simmer for 2 minutes. Add additional broth if desired; thicken with the arrowroot slurry, if desired. Taste and correct the seasoning.
Serve over noodles, potatoes, polenta or rice. Top with sour cream and serve immediately.
Sunday Night Goulash Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2015. All rights reserved.
The key with goulash, or any braised-meat dish, is to brown the meat well and then cook it oh, so slowly! You can’t rush this type of dish, but the good news is…it doesn’t require much attention once you get past the initial browning and cooking of the veggies. I don’t cut the meat into cubes; I find it easier to handle in large pieces and I prefer to tear it apart at the end of cooking. I like the way it looks.
I used frozen bell pepper strips; they work great and will cooks to pieces easily. You can also use frozen, chopped onions, as well. You will note that I use regular Hungarian sweet paprika as well as, sweet smoke paprika. I like this flavor balance best, but use what you prefer. Use some hot paprika, if you wish…make the recipe the way you want it.
Many goulash recipes have you mix sour cream into the sauce. I prefer to serve it on the side and each person can add some to their own serving, mixing it in as desired. I usually serve this with pasta; my mother always served it with mashed potatoes. Some people put potatoes right into the mixture. Do what you want to…make the recipe the way you want it.
Feel free to add (frozen) peas or mushrooms, if you wish. They are good add in…make the recipe the way you want it…I’m seeing a theme here!
Whatever options you use, this is a perfect Sunday dinner or Saturday night company dish. It takes time, but not too much active time. You just have to be around to check the liquid level now and then. The other nice thing about this, it reheats extremely well and is almost better reheated. This is also excellent using venison instead of beef. One last thing, sometimes I add about 1/3 cup of very finely diced ham and the same amount of finely diced dill pickles to the sauce; when I do this, the goulash veers away from Hungary and toward Germany…we’re traveling the world with comfort food!