Hungarian Goulash: My Favorite Heirloom Recipe (passed down from generation to generation)
Hungarian Goulash (Magyar Gulyas)
As far as Heirloom recipes go, I have two. Having been born in Hungary coincidentally "Hungarian Goulash" is my all time favorite "soothing the soul" dish. So I decided to share it first.
Dad's Moms side of the family can be traced back to an orchard property in the northwest of Hungary. (I think I have just the right amount of 'greats') Great-great-great-great-granddad Adalbert bought it in 1806. This recipe supposedly goes back to his second wife Ilonka. And according to Grandma (Dad's Mom) has a funny story attached to it. Ilonka became the second wife, when she wasn't twenty yet. She replaced a formidable 'perfect' in everything housewife who had died in childbirth. Ilonka was trying her best to please her new husband. Everyday she nervously awaited his approval of the dishes she set in front of him. He, being a miserable so & so always complained that it just didn't taste as good and not quite the same as what he'd been used to.
A year or so later Ilonka accidentally burned the Goulash, there was not enough time to make anything else before her husband came home from working hard in the orchard. In total despair she worriedly dished out the dinner. No matter how much she had tried to spice things up the burnt flavor was throughout the whole pots-worth. After month and month of perfectly cooked meals, none had gained his praise. Totally expecting him to yell and complain. She got the surprise of her life, when he shouted that it was about time she had learned how to cook, this was the first decently tasting meal she had put in front of him. (In my opinion this would probably have been soothing salve for Ilonka, the perfectly perfect first wife had flaws after all). Great-great-great-great-granddad Adalbert died at an early age leaving her to raise his son. Ilonka supposedly had become a force to reckon with as she worked the Orchard and raised the son on her own. She also gained a reputation of being a fabulous cook. "Having the ability to make gourmet meals with only a cup of water, salted sows ears, a tail and paprika". (Grandma's funny saying translated from Hungarian).
Don't worry the following recipe does not need to be burned. Neither does it follow the original Hungarian Goulash which goes back to the time of the Huns. It was a meal that was a cross of stew and thick chuncky soup. The herdsman in charge of the sheep would set up his cooking pot over the coals in the firepit in the morning. Throw in a variety of meatcuts, mostly lamb or mutton and vegetables if they were available and the goulash would simmer pretty near all day. And be ready for the evening meal.
The best Hungarian Goulash recipe ever!
The only thing this recipe still has in common with the old herdsman's type of goulash is that this is a meal that resembles a cross between chunky soup and stew. This recipe will generously feed anywhere from six to eight people especially if served with thick slices of home made sour dough bread.
- 2 lbs stewing beef---(any of the cheaper cuts will do fine)
- 2 large onions---finely chopped
- 3 large carrots---chunked
- 3 stalks of celery---diced
- 2 large tomato---chopped (can be substituted by 2 tbsp of tomato pure)
- 1-2 large red or green pepper---coarsely chopped (mild Shepperd or bell)
- 3 large potatoes---peeled and large chunked
- 1/2 dried chili pepper
- 4 tablespoons of mild Hungarian paprika---(if not available use red Spanish paprika)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon of celery seed (whole or crushed)
- 1 clove of garlic---minced
- 2 tablespoons lard---I substitute olive oil
- Hot cayenne pepper to taste (if spicier taste is wanted)
Sauté onions in oil until golden brown; remove from heat; add paprika, give it a quick stir and quickly add a cup of water (the paprika flavor will get bitter if not diluted with water fast). Now add spices and remaining ingredients add enough water to cover all. Set over med-low heat and simmer until meat is tender (timing depends on the type of meat-cuts used). Once the meat is cooked tender and if you're looking for a thicker stew, combine 2 tbsps of cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water. Slowly add cornstarch wash while stirring.
Adjust spices and serve with thick chunks of fresh bread baguette. Traditionally sourdough rye bread is the perfect accompaniment.
This recipe works out perfect in a slow-cooker. I love to use new crop small baby potatoes scrubbed and whole.
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