January 8, 2018
This is about .... Hungarian GOULASH --- YUM!!
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        STEW!---just saying the word congers up homey, comforting, a kind of relaxing and letting go. Not only does its soothing aroma spread everywhere as it cooks, but the anticipation of A LONG-COOKED SIMMERING ANYTHING IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER CAN SOOTHE MANY A WEATHER-WORN SOUL. This stew, a rich, long-cooked goulash, does all of that. The beef is slowly simmered with a lot of bright orangey-red Hungarian sweet paprika, lots of onions, carrots, and a hint of caraway. At the very end, it’s brightened up with a squeeze of lemon or some cider vinegar.
        Years back, when I was performing in Prague, goulash was everywhere, and I ATE A LOT OF IT. Interestingly though, the eastern Europeans are all about the gravy, and much less about the meat. Actually, the definition of goulash describes it as a Hungarian dish somewhere between a soup and a stew that’s highly seasoned with paprika. So, true to form IN PRAGUE, YOU GOT A FEW, MAYBE 3-5, SMALL PIECES OF MEAT. This meager portion of protein was most always accompanied by a lot of steamed white bread buns that sat in a reddish brown soup—way too little beef, and way too much mushy starch for me.
        Back home, I don’t skimp on the beef. And, instead of those pasty buns, I like to serve it over a bed of buttered wide egg noodles or my grandma’s homemade spaetzle. But, boiled potatoes or even a few slices of crusty bread to sop up the gravy would be delicious too.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Find a good quality Hungarian paprika. I used a sweet version, but smoked would be delicious too.
2. Make sure to move the pot off of the heat when you add the paprika, that way it won’t scorch and become bitter.
3. I have carrots in mine, but you could leave them out. Or, go the other way and add a peeled, diced potato or 2 with the carrots.
4. If you want a thicker gravy, leave the lid off or ajar during the last 30 minutes or so.
5. This needs some occasional attention. Stir it every once in a while to avoid sticking on the bottom of the pot.
6. Make sure to freeze any leftovers. That way, you’ll be ready to be soothed at a moment’s notice.

Hungarian GOULASH

1- 1 1/4 pounds beef stewing meat, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1” inch cubes, I use beef round
¼ cup all-purpose flour,
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced, about 4 cups
2 cloves garlic minced
pinch salt
2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 /4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups beef broth, low-sodium or homemade, divided
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced, ½” on the diagonal, halved again if too large, about 1 ½ cups
1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper or to taste
minced fresh parsley

Make the goulash:
        Add the flour and pepper in a large Ziploc bag or bowl. Shake or stir to combine. Add the beef and shake or toss to coat well. Heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy, lidded pot, and add the beef, a few pieces at a time. Do it in 2 or 3 batches, so you don’t overcrowd the pot. Cook, turning the pieces until the beef is browned on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Add more oil as needed. Remove the beef from the pot and set aside.
        In the same pot, over low to medium-low heat, melt the butter. Add the onions, garlic, and the pinch salt, and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and starting to brown, about 7-10 minutes.
        Move the pot off the heat and stir in the paprika and caraway seeds to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the broth, stirring up the browned bits at the bottom of the pot.
        Put the pot back over the heat and stir in the remaining broth. Add the browned beef, carrots, tomato sauce and salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook until the beef is tender, about 1 ¾-2 hours. Stir the goulash occasionally to avoid scorching on the bottom. If the gravy is too soupy, continue to cook, uncovered, to thicken it.
        Stir in the lemon juice or vinegar, and if needed, salt and pepper to taste. Serve over wide egg noodles, boiled potatoes, homemade egg dumplings or even with a few slices of good crusty bread.
        Keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for 3 months.

Makes 4 servings.      YUM!
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