The Hungarian goulash recipe is one of the most typical dishes of East Europe. About goulash I have a precise view, the first time I went in Hungary. It was the December of 1992, and I was traveling along with my parents. I remember distinctly two things: the freezing cold that wrapped Budapest in the Christmas time, and a hot, flavorful, hearty, stew came to my rescue! The goulash recipe has an ancient and fascinating story, started with the migration of the cows between the Hungarian steppe and the main East-European markets. A country recipe become a masterpiece of the comfort food culture! Here the history and the recipe.
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HUNGARIAN GOULASH HISTORY
The goulash recipe (Magyar Gulyas) is an ancient stew traditional in Hungary and the other territories of the former Austrian-Hungarian empire.
Originally, the goulash was a soupy stew prepared with the convenient cuts of meat by the Hungarian cowhand (called Gulays in Hungarian) on the way form the Hungarian steppe towards to the Austrian, German, and Moldovan markets. In the scarcity of meat, they used to prepare a humbler version of goulash made with dried beans.
Starting from XVI Century, thanks to the importing of peppers from the Americas, Paprika has become a critical ingredient of the goulash recipe.
GOULASH STEW, PASTA, AND SOUP
The original goulash is a cross between a stew and a soup. The popularity of this recipe and the several family variations make difficult to say what is the authentic recipe. At the present day, the versions considered traditional in Hungary, are basically three:
• GOULASH SOUP – It is the goulash version closer to the cowhand’s recipe. The density of the soup depends on if the recipe is served with or without Csipetke: traditional egg and flour pasta cooked directly in the goulash soup.
• GOULASH STEW – It is a thicker version of goulash soup: the broth is more dense, but it still needs a spoon.
• GOULASH PASTA – Often goulash is paired with pasta. In this case the goulash broth is thicker like a sauce and paired with noodles, or Vermicelli, or Spaetzle. The pasta is tossed with the sauce or served aside.
CHOOSING THE MEAT
Originally, Hungarian goulash was commonly prepared with beef cuts and bones, but also lamb, chicken, mutton, and goat, depending on the availability. Nowadays, the beef chunks remain the preferred cut, but mixing the meats permit to create interesting flavors.
Unless you prefer to prepare goulash with bone-in meats, I suggest you use a prime quality beef stock (here my family recipe).
Besides the basic vegetables – carrots, onions, and potatoes – some variations require different vegetables, like parsley roots, sauerkraut, or beans.
HUNGARIAN GOULASH SPICES
Sweet Paprika is certainly the queen of goulash spices. Besides paprika, the other fundamental spices and herbs are caraway seeds, black pepper, and bay leaves. Marjoram and thyme are frequently used during the spring and summer season. Commonly goulash has not a smoked flavor, but depending on your taste, you can add a bit of smoked paprika.
GOULASH RECIPE TIPS
Like the other the stew recipes, preparing the Hungarian goulash, the most critical step is maintaining the meat extremely tender. That’s why it is fundamental gently simmer the goulash for all the cooking time. Once cooked, if you need to thicken the sauce, raise the meat, and possibly the vegetables, then increase the flame, and eventually add the meat again once the sauce reaches the right density.
The Hungarian goulash is a recipe tasty just prepared, but even more flavorful the day after!
HUNGARIAN GOULASH RECIPE
- • 1 Lb (450 g) Beef chuck roast (alternatively, Pork butt, or Lamb shoulder)
- • 12 oz (340 g) pasta (optional)
- • 2 pint (1Lt) beef stock (click here for the recipe)
- • 1 cup (200 g) ripe diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
- • 1 (225 g) medium white onion
- • 2 cloves garlic
- • 2 (250 g) medium carrots
- • 4 (450 g) yellow potatoes
- • 1 Anaheim pepper (alternatively, 1 green pepper)
- • 1 tbsp lard (alternatively, 2 tbsp sunflower oil)
- • 2 bay leaves
- • 1/2 tsp celery seeds
- • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- • 3 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
- • 1/2 tsp black pepper
- • 1 bunch parsley
- • to taste table salt
- MEAT MARINADEChoose the meat depending on your preferences: beef chuck, pork butt, or lamb shoulder. Alternatively, mix two or more different meats. Now, reduce the meat into cubes, then marinate with the paprika, the black pepper and 1 tsp of table salt. Finally, pour the meat into a bowl, wrap and store in the fridge at least 30 minutes up to 1 night.
- ONION AND CARROTS
Peel and mince the onion, then peel a half carrot and mince it as well. After that, melt the lard in a thick-bottomed heavy pot over medium heat, then saute the minced onion and carrot along with the bay leaves, the celery seeds, and the caraway seeds. Cook the vegetables until tender and translucent, stirring occasionally.
- GOULASH STEW
Now, raise the flame, then pour the meat into the pot and saute a few minutes. After that, add the diced tomatoes and stir-fry 5 minutes more. Finally, add 1 pint of beef stock, then set the flame in order to let the goulash stew simmer very gently: you want to see just a few bubbles at a time. Cook the stew in this way 2 hours, uncovered. If needed, add more stock.
- POTATOES AND PEPPER
Peel and dice the potatoes, then peel and cut the remaining carrots into chunks. Finally, slice the Anaheim peppers discarding the seeds. After two hours, add the vegetables into the pot, cover with a lid, then let the stew simmer gently until the carrots and potatoes are done but still in shape.
- SERVING HUNGARIAN GOULASH
Once ready, serve the Hungarian goulash into bowls garnishing with minced parsley and a sprinkle of fresh black pepper.
- GULASH PASTA VARIATION
Hungarian goulash and pasta is a traditional pairing. Cook the pasta into salted water, then raise and sautè along with goulash sauce. Finally, add the meat and vegetable pieces, then garnish with parsley and serve hot.
- HUNGARIAN GOULASH SOUP VARIATION
Another tasty variation is the goulash soup. In this case, double the amount of beef stock. Once the stew is ready, depending on your preferences, you can boil along with the goulash soup short size Hungarian pasta like Csipetke.
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