Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hungarian Goulash


Hungarian goulash is a dish that has special meaning to me. Back in the third grade, my teacher, Miss (Cindy) Mead, had a contest where select students could attend a dinner party at her house with our parents. I don't even remember what the contest was but I was chosen and was thrilled! For the dinner, she said that she would be cooking a special dish that her grandma used to make. What was on the menu? Hungarian Goulash.

I'll never forget that dinner party. There I was in her apartment with maybe 4 or 5 of my fellow classmates and some of our parents. I remember playing with my classmates, running around chasing Miss Mead's cat while the adults were in the kitchen talking and cooking. It was a nice fall evening where it wasn't too hot or too cold - just perfect weather, enough for the screen door to let in a cool breeze.

So there I am running and chasing her orange cat and I noticed some of my classmates moved outside and were hanging out in the back patio area. Seeing them outside, I ran over to them to play some more... only to run into the screen door... that was closed. I was a chubby kid back then (my, how some things never change!) and that screen door came off the tracks and fell onto the patio, with me on top. I was mortified. Thank goodness my parents weren't there because I could only imagine what they would have done to me!

One of the parents there picked me up off the screen, Miss Mead rushed over to check that I was okay and my classmates stared at me in shock, yet with that look of wanting to laugh. I was so embarrassed that I felt my face turn bright red.... possibly as bright red as the Hungarian Goulash I prepared for dinner. Needless to say, the first time I had Hungarian Goulash was delicious (Thank you Miss Mead!) and Miss Mead didn't host any more dinner parties with her students after that. And if you're wondering, she was even nice enough to not tell my parents I busted her screen door!

That wasn't exactly the way I wanted to experience Hungarian Goulash for the first time, but it sure was memorable! This recipe was very good and I prepared it as is with the exception of adding the sour cream. I ran out the other night and so I did without. Regardless, it was still delicious! The nice, spicy heat of the paprika was not overly strong but just right. I served this with some homemade spaetzle that had a delicious hint of nutmeg. If you haven't tried goulash before, this is a great recipe to start with!

Hungarian Goulash

recipe adapted from Food Network

1 strip bacon
2 onions, medium dice
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 1/2 pounds stewing beef or pork, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons good quality sweet Hungarian paprika
2 cups beef or vegetable broth
1- 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup sour cream


In a cold, heavy 6 to 8-quart stewing pot or dutch oven, fry bacon over low-medium heat until fat is rendered, and then discard bacon slice.

Saute onions in the bacon fat for a few minutes, do not allow the onions to brown. If bacon does not provide enough fat, add a little olive oil to prevent the onions from sticking. When onions become glossy, add the beef, sauteing with the onions for about 10 minutes, covered, until the meat is browned.

Add the minced garlic and allow to saute for about a minute. Remove the pot from heat and stir in paprika with a wooden spoon. Once the paprika is absorbed, add the beef or vegetable broth and crushed tomatoes. Cover pot and cook over low heat for about 1 hour.

After 1 hour of braising, add the green pepper. Simmer slowly for another 30 minutes.

Once goulash is finished, dissolve sour cream and a little of the goulash sauce in a cup. Add to goulash, it should give a creamy consistency. Serve goulash with homemade spaetzle on the side, adding an extra dollop of sour cream to each plate.