Hungarian-style Goulash


While I was growing up, I remember a dish that involved ground beef, elbow macaroni, ketchup, frozen mixed vegetables and stewed tomatoes that was often referred to as “Goulash.” Given that observation, for the longest time, I thought the term “goulash” kind of meant ‘cheap one-pot meal of whatever was handy to make a casserole with.’  Later, as my confidence in cooking improved and I started exploring dishes of other cultures, I discovered that was a misnomer.  It is an actual stew using large chunks of meat, onions and peppers that does originate from Hungary.  It’s an economical dish that uses the most basic of seasoning ~ salt and pepper ~ with the defining element being Sweet Hungarian Paprika!  Of course, any paprika can be used but it will taste a bit different.  Served over a bed of hot broad noodles and a dollop of sour cream, this dish is best made a day ahead and left to “marry” over night.

For four servings, you will need:

1 1/2 lbs of boneless beef chuck, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes

2 strips of bacon, rough chopped

2 medium-sized onions, rough chopped

1 bell pepper, cut into chunks

3/4 red wine and/or beef broth (yes, I use both because it makes the sauce richer in taste)

Salt and pepper to taste

Hot buttered broad noodles

Sour cream

Making it:

1. In a heavy dutch oven or large skillet, saute’ the bacon over medium to high heat until the fat is rendered out.

2. Add the beef cubes and brown slowly on all sides.

3. Add in the onions; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until the onions are softened.

4. Add the red wine and/or broth, paprika, salt, pepper and bell pepper chunks.  Blend well.

5. Simmer slowly, covered, without boiling for about two hours, until meat is tender, OR transfer to a crock pot for slow cooking (I favor this method).

6. When ready to serve, prepare noodles and serve with the sour cream.

7. This dish is great with a nice crusty bread and Cole Slaw or Brussels Sprouts on the side.

Additional notes:

* Potatoes can be used instead of noodles.  Just add them in during the slow cooking process.

* I like to kick this dish up a little bit by adding in some garlic, allspice, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon and red pepper.

* Sometimes, I flour the meat cubes for added richness in the sauce.

* This dish should not be ‘soupy’ but just saucy enough to lay well over the noodles.

* Make a huge batch and freeze some for another time!

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