Hungarian Goulash

Hungarian Goulash.

Beef and Noodle Goodness in a slow cooked sauce. Tender and Delicious.

Hungarian Goulash is basically a beef stew. What makes it Hungarian is the addition of Hungarian Paprika to the sauce.

Although this recipe cooks for an hour and a half, it’s still very easy to put together. Once all the ingredients are in the pot, a bit of simple stirring every now and then is all it takes.

Here’s what you need:

Beef*, Olive Oil, Onion, Garlic, Celery, Parsley, Flour, Paprika, Diced Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce, Beef Bouillon Cubes, Bay Leaf, Thyme, Salt & Pepper, Egg Noodles, Poppy Seeds, Butter and  Sour Cream (not pictured).

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*For this recipe you don’t need to buy a fancy piece of steak. The original recipe calls for beef stew meat, however I find that the stew meat at most stores while cheap, is long on gristle and fat and short on meat. I buy a cut of meat called Top Round or Round Steak.

You can see that my store slapped a London Broil sticker on my package which is a bit confusing since the actual dish, London Broil is made with Flank Steak which is an entirely different cut of meat. Look for a boneless piece of meat that looks fairly lean or ask the butcher for Top Round or Round Steak.

I had just over 1 1/2 pounds of meat and for 4 portions, I was wishing for just a little more in the meat to sauce ratio. For 4 portions (this makes GREAT leftovers), I would use 2 pounds of meat.

Slice the beef into pieces about 1 inch long and 1/2 inch wide. No need to get too precise here…just go for nice bite sized chunks.

Chop up 1 large onion.

Heat 2-3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in a large pot or pan. I’m using my favorite dutch oven in the hope that it will cut down on the splatter as I brown the meat. When my mom makes this, she uses a huge skillet.

Working in small batches, brown the meat in the hot oil over medium high heat.

Working in small batches so the meat has plenty of room in the pan is one of the best cooking tips I can offer. I didn’t always follow this rule, and to be honest, I now really notice a difference. Small batches = deliciously browned meat. Large batches dumped in the pan all at once = sad, gray meat that steams rather than browns.

No need to cook the meat all the way through. Just get some nice brown texture on the outside and those nice brown bits in the bottom of the pan.

When all the meat has browned (my meat cooked in 3 batches), add it back to the pan and stir in the chopped onion. You might need to add just a bit more oil (or even a little butter) if the pan looks too dry.

Cook the onions until tender but not browned — about 5 minutes.

While the onions cook, drain the juices from the can of diced tomatoes into a measuring cup.

Add water to the tomato juices to equal 1 1/2 cups total.

When the onions are tender, turn the heat down to LOW and add 2 Tablespoons of Flour to the pot. Also add 2 Tablespoons of Hungarian Sweet Paprika.

Paprika is found in the spice section of the store and comes in several different varieties. For this recipe look for Paprika that says Hungarian and/or Sweet on the label. Do not use the hot or smoked varieties as they will totally overwhelm the sauce.

Add a pinch (maybe 1/8 teaspoon if you feel like measuring) of dried thyme to the pot and give everything a good stir to combine.

Stir and cook the flour into the meat for a few minutes being careful not to let it stick.

Stir in the tomato juice/water mixture.

Add the diced tomatoes and 3 beef bouillon cubes.

Finely chop 1-2 cloves of garlic and add it to the pot.

Season the sauce with 1 bay leaf, 1 leafy rib of celery, and 4-5 sprigs of fresh parsley.

Just toss them right in the pot. You can fish them out (although the parsley will mostly dissolve) before serving.

Add 1 cup of tomato sauce and stir to combine all the ingredients.

With the heat on low, bring the sauce to a gentle simmer — that means small gently bursting bubbles rather than a full on rolling boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

Go watch the Royal Wedding on your dvr or the hockey playoffs or if both if you’re weird like me. Wander through the kitchen occasionally and give the sauce a stir. It has a tendency to want to stick if the heat is too high.

About 60 minutes into the cooking time, I moved the lid to be slightly open over the pot. This allows the sauce to continue to cook but to thicken slightly.

After 90 minutes, taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. Fish out the bay leaf and the wilted celery.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook a package of wide egg noodles about 6 minutes until al dente — tender but still slightly firm in the center.

Drain the noodles well and then toss them with 3-4 Tablespoons of butter and about 1 teaspoon (more or less) of poppy seeds.

Serve the Goulash on a bed of the buttery poppy seed noodles. Top with a dollop of sour cream if that’s your thing.

I dollop.

Isn’t it time to bring a little Hungarian Goulash into your life?

Here’s the recipe:

Hungarian Goulash

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