Oh baby, it’s cold outside!
2016 is off to a very chilly start in southern Germany – the perfect excuse to snuggle up in front of the fireplace, to wear cozy slippers all weekend long AND to dig deep in my recipe box for new and delicious soups and stews. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for traditional Hungarian gulyás since the beginning of the month, when my husband and I shared fond memories of a brilliant culinary holiday in Budapest for New Year’s Day 2012. The experience had been a first for both of us – his first goulash ever, and my first that wasn’t made with the loving hands of my adorable Polish grandmother. My husband polished off three bowls in one sitting on our first night in Pest, then continued to enjoy it everywhere we went in Hungary’s capital for the rest of our holiday. I hadn’t made it since, but this past weekend – snowy and well below freezing – seemed like the perfect opportunity to walk down a delectable memory lane.
Gulyás (goulash) – a soup or stew made of meat or vegetables, seasoned with paprika and a variety of other spices – is the type of recipe that exists on a very wide taste spectrum. In other words, I’ve never run across a goulash that contains the exact same ingredients in the exact same quantity as another. While sweet, high quality Hungarian paprika is essential, and other additions – onion, garlic, caraway seeds, and bell peppers – are fairly standard, the contents can otherwise be tailored to an individual palate. I tossed in some of my husband’s favorites – tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, beef cheeks and red bell peppers – but encourage you to use the flavors and textures you enjoy. Serve with csipetke (small, pinched egg noodles, also known as spätzle in Germany) or a thick, crusty loaf of bread on your next chilly winter’s day – you won’t regret it!
HUNGARIAN GULYAS (GOULASH)
Yields | 4 to 6 servings
Inspiration | The Daring Gourmet
- 3 tbsp pork lard
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- ¼ cup high quality, sweet Hungarian paprika
- 1½ pounds beef (see note), cut into ½-inch pieces
- 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
- 2 red bell peppers, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and membranes removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
- 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
- 2 fresh carrots, diced
- 2 medium potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks
- 5 cups beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve (optional)
- Melt the lard in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and cook until slightly browned, about 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the paprika. Add the beef and garlic, return to the heat, and cook for approximately 10 minutes, or until the beef is no longer pink.
- Add the bell peppers and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes. Add the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, beef broth, bay leaf, caraway seeds, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for 40 minutes (see note). Add salt to taste.
- Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle with chopped flat-leaf parsley, if desired. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt, csipetke or thick, crusty bread.
Note: If you’re using a tougher cut of beef, cook the beef first, without the carrots, tomatoes, potatoes and bell peppers, for 30-45 minutes, then add the vegetables and cook for another 40 minutes, until the beef is tender.