Friday, March 26, 2010

Hungarian goulash

I first tasted real goulash at a restaurant in the Czech capital, Prague (we have something called gúllas in Iceland, but it's really more like a version of ragout). My parents, with whom I was travelling, ordered something safe and generic (fried chicken if I recall rightly), but I was feeling adventurous and ordered the goulash. I was rewarded by a big smile from the waiter who was clearly delighted that the tourist had ordered something unexpected. The stew was excellent, and the dumplings were good, but lay heavy in my belly afterwards. Goulash may have originated in Hungary, but the Czechs have made it their own.

Flash forward several years:

One weekend not so long ago stewing beef was on discount at a local supermarket and I brought home a tray of it. I decided I wanted to make goulash, but for various reasons, mostly to do with unobtainable ingredients and/or the sheer number of ingredients in the recipes, I chose not to use one from Hungarian Cuisine, but instead went for one of my big mixed-cuisine cookbooks, namely The Spice Cookbook, which I have already reviewed and posted several recipes from. In it I found this excellent and simple recipe for goulash, (which I have altered a little bit):

Round 1:
1 kg. (2 lbs) stewing beef
2 tbs. shortening (an absolutely authentic recipe would use lard)
2 medium-sized yellow onions, thinly sliced

Round 2:
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. Hungarian paprika powder
1/8 tsp. cayenne-pepper
1 cup water

Round 3:
3 average-sized potatoes, cut into eights
1/3 cup green capsicum (bell pepper), chopped into small pieces (about 1 cm, 2/5 inch)

Round 4.
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika powder

Trim any fat off the meat and cut it into even-sized cubes, about 2,5 cm (1 inch) square. Melt half the shortening in a deep frying pan or saucepan and brown the meat on all sides. Remove from the pan, add the remaining shortening and gently fry the onions over low heat until golden. Return the meat to the pan and add the Round 2 ingredients.

Simmer under a lid for 90 minutes or until the meat is almost tender enough to eat (will take less time if you use a nice, tender cut). Add the Round 3 ingredients and continue simmering under a lid for 30 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Add the remaining paprika. Adjust flavour with salt and pepper if necessary.

Serve warm with rice or Hungarian bread dumplings, and a salad.

  • Good enough that I wrote it into my recipe notebook where I put recipes I have tested that have turned out good enough for me to make them again.
  • Works with lamb as well, but not as flavourful. I would use lamb or mutton shanks rather than cutlet meat if I try it again with lamb.

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