When I was a child, my dad went off to work each day, and my mom stayed home. Every day we were treated to a home-cooked meal, and for that I’m very thankful. My mom was a wonderful cook, but sadly she passed away before I learned all her magical kitchen secrets. She did pass on some of my favorite recipes to me before she was gone, and over the years I’ve tweaked them a bit for my own tastes. I hope to blog many of those recipes here, so that I can pass them on to others as well.
Today’s recipe is Hungarian Goulash. This stew is a wonderful comfort food that is great on a chilly day. Today it wasn’t so chilly here in early June, but this was a meal I hadn’t had in a while and I had all the ingredients on hand, so off I went.
The recipe starts with beef. For recipes like this, where the meat is cooked slowly over low heat for a while, I usually use chuck. I will often buy my meat in bulk, cut and wrap it into pieces the size I want, and freeze them until needed. I use a 2-3 pound piece of beef chuck. Since I keep the meat frozen, I’ll usually thaw it in the microwave, but not all the way. The meat is easier to cut up if it’s still a bit frozen. Trim off the bigger chunks of fat and cut it up into pieces. The recipe calls for 2-inch chunks, but I just cut it up into bite-size pieces I like.
Next add the olive oil and bring the heat to medium, to brown the beef on all sides. You could use butter, vegetable oil, or any other fat you like instead of olive oil.
Once the beef is browned, add in the flour and mix it together to make a roux. This will help to thicken the mixture as it cooks.
Some recipes at this point will tell you to cook the flour for a minute or so to get rid of the raw flavor. This mixture will cook for a while, so that’s not necessary here. After the flour is mixed in, add the onion and garlic. I used one whole onion from a local farm and a couple spoonfuls of pre-minced organic garlic in a jar. I hate mincing garlic.
Mix that in and we’re ready for the liquids. The original recipe called for 2 cups of chopped tomatoes, an 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, and 2 cups of beef broth. I replace the chopped tomatoes with a 15-ounce can of stewed tomatoes that I puree a bit in my food processor. I love the taste of stewed tomatoes, but I don’t want a lot of big chunks. I was out of tomato sauce this time, so I used a small can of tomato paste mixed with an equal amount of water.
Last up are the herbs and spices. I add parsley, salt, paprika, and a bay leaf. You could add other things here if you like, such as basil, oregano, thyme, but be careful with amounts so they don’t overpower the dish. Don’t leave out the paprika, that’s what gives this dish its distinctive color and flavor.
Now the easy part! Just mix everything together, bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook for 2 hours. Be sure to check it every 15 to 30 minutes and give it a stir so it doesn’t stick on the bottom. That’s one reason I always use a non-stick pot for this recipe as well. After an hour of cooking, you can put a lid on it if it’s evaporating too fast. If it gets too thick, just add a little water.
You can serve this over noodles or rice. I always boil up some egg noodles to put it on, and serve with a nice side of bread, rolls, or biscuits. I had some home made rolls in the freezer, so we had that.
2 pounds of beef chuck, cut into 2-inch pieces
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of flour
1 cup of chopped onion
1 clove of garlic, minced
2 cups of beef broth
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
2 cups of peeled diced tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1 tablespoon of paprika
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
1 bay leaf
Brown the beef in olive oil at medium heat. Mix in the flour. Add onion and garlic and mix in. Add liquids and stir to combine. Add herbs and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Cover if needed to prevent too much evaporation. Serve over cooked noodles or rice. Serves 4.