Chunks of beef and hearty root vegetables are combined with peppers and peppery spices to make this comforting national dish of Hungary.
The goulash (gulyás, meaning “herdsman” or “shepherd”) originated as a transportable convenience food for Hungarians centuries ago. Dried meats and starchy root vegetables were spiced and packed into bags made from sheep’s stomachs, and workers needed only to add hot water to reconstitute a meal. Today, the characteristic stew is a proud symbol of the Magyar state and culture.
One defining attribute of goulash is the inclusion of Hungarian paprika, and it is worth tracking down instead of relying on the ordinary Western spice. Made from a dried red pepper (Capsicum annuum), paprika is found around the world but the versions produced in Hungary are considered of superior quality with a bright red color and sharp, mildly hot flavor. Spanish versions (pimentón) are usually sweeter and have a smokey flavor from the process used to dry the chiles.
Along with paprika, red or green bell peppers are usually included in this dish but here commercial roasted red peppers are used. Found prepared and preserved in jars or cans, these pre-cooked peppers provide convenience and cost-savings while also contributing a roasty, fire-charred flavor to the stew.
Goulash is traditionally served with a quick csipetke, meaning “pinched noodles” or dumplings of simple pinched dough that cook in the pot just before serving. These can easily be omitted in favor of crusty bread for sopping up the rich broth.
1 lb chuck beef
1 beef soup bone
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 red bell peppers (roasted)
1 russet potato
1 T tomato paste
1 T celery flakes
1 T Hungarian paprika
1 t caraway seed
For the dumplings (csipetke):
½-¾ c flour
1 Chop the onion and sauté in oil until lightly browned, about 10 min.
2 Add the beef and paprika, stir to coat and cook until well-browned on all sides.
3 Mince the garlic and add along with the tomato paste and spices, and season to taste.
4 Add the beef bone with 6 c water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 90 min.
5 Dice the carrot, parsnip, potato and peppers and add to the soup. Continue to simmer, covered, for another 45 min.
6 Mix the dumpling ingredients together with 1 t water and form into a ball of dough. Pinch thumbnail-sized portions off the dough and add to the soup. Simmer for another 10-15 min or until cooked through.