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Hungarian Goulash: My Favorite Heirloom Recipe (passed down from generation to generation)

Updated on March 05, 2013

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.

Ingredients:

  • 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)

Methodology:

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.

Tips:

This recipe works out perfect in a slow-cooker. I love to use new crop small baby potatoes scrubbed and whole.

Enjoy.


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    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 2 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thank you for reading and commenting Arachnea. Here in my neck of the woods we're coming into the "need warm soul food" season and the goulash is usually the first one on the list in my family. I have made this recipe over the years with lamb and mutton and I liked it but my gang prefers the recipe with beef. A fresh baguette is almost a must have ... to sop up the juice... just so you don't miss a drop.

      Let me know how you like the goulash.

      again thanks for reading

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • Arachnea profile image

      Tanya Jones 2 years ago from Texas USA

      This is a great hub. I've got to try the recipe. When I was a legal courier in San Diego, a Hungarian restaurant opened down the street. Their specialty was goulash. They made a chicken goulash which was to die for. I wonder how this would work with lamb? A nice baguette as suggested above sounds perfect to top this off.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 4 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Hiya Donnie,

      There are sooooo many Hungarian Goulash recipes out there, probably all tasty. This is the one my children and their families love and will keep making mainly because it was passed down through the family.

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Donnie 4 years ago

      Thank You! I have been looking for true Hungarian Goulash but all the recipes don't have potatoes and I thought true Goulash had potatoes in it.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 4 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Alexandra, thank you for taking a look and for commenting. Hope the dinner party turned out okay and that everyone enjoyed your food.

      There are a couple more recipes of mine published here on Hubpages. enjoy

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Alexandra 4 years ago

      Hi Zsuzsy,

      I have most of my family coming for dinner tomorrow night to meet my eldest son's girlfriend (we think this is the one by the way he talks about her) & i'm going to make your beautiful sounding goulash. Am really looking forward to it, and love the story from your family. Thank you for sharing with us. Do you have any other recipes? and where do i go to read them? I will let you know how it goes tomorrow, but i am sure you already know.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 4 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Hiya Sue, my recipe is as the name explaines an old heritage recipe. I love to make it, and my family loves to eat it. There is no way that I could or would stop making Ilonkas recipe.

      Thanks for reading and commenting

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Sue Adams profile image

      Juliette Kando 4 years ago from Andalusia

      Hello fellow Hungarian (my real name is Zsuzsanna),

      My mum taught me a much simpler version of Hungarian Goulash. She always insists: "Real Hungarian Goulash only has three main ingredients: Onions, meat, and paprika."

      Use equal amounts of onions and meat. Fry until meat crisp on all sides (like you said, almost burned), add the paprika, a little sugar and a little water. While gradually adding water to keep it thick,(no need for cornflower)simmer until meat is tender.

      The actual taste of Goulash comes from what you scrape off the bottom of a cast iron pan while occasionally stirring and adding a little water at a time to stop it burning.

      Serve on boiled potatoes (krumpli) and top up with sour cream, with fresh mixed salad on the side.

      Tip: Hungarian Goulash always tastes even better when re-heated the next day.

      Maybe your ancestors were more sophisticated than mine?

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 5 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      My daughter who is always sooo busy always uses her slowcooker. Shw just loads all the ingredients into her slowcooker turns it on and comes home to a perfectly cooked meal.

      Good luck with your new slowcooker.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Kimberly 5 years ago

      Hi!

      Would anyone know how you would cook this recipe differently if you were using a slow cooker? It is my first time using it so I don't want to over-cook, or add anything to late/early.

      Thanks!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 5 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      rjsadowski, galuska? Are those the really small dried noodles (lentil size)? Originaly the recipe also had caraway seed in it which I don't like and therefore dropped off the recipe.

      Thanks for taking a look and for commenting.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 5 years ago

      An interesting variation. I don't ever recall seeing celery or celery seed in Hungarian gulyas, but of course, every region of Hungary has its own variation. I like to make mine with little homemade dumplings called galuska.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
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      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Nrnotables@comcast.net, every family has its own version of a recipe. My Mom used to add a pinch of caraway seeds, and a bay leaf but Ilonka did not. As I do not like either I stick with the original recipe. I make the recipe as I wrote it down in my slow cooker.

      In my opinion the recipe is perfect but then you can make whatever adjustments work for your family.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Nrnotables@comcast.net 6 years ago

      I am about to make my first goulash but i have read so many recipes my head is spinning. Some say "no garlic, no peppers, most include sour cream, some use bay leaves, i am thinking about combining all of the recipes but leaving out garlic since a family member cannot have it. What do you think???? And should liquid be adjusted for slow cooker???Thanks, ncr

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      loves2cook, thank you for taking a look and for commenting. Over the cold months I have the slow cooker on the go regularly and the Goulash is on the menu often.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • loves2cook profile image

      loves2cook 6 years ago from Portland, OR

      Agreed, this looks like a perfect slow cooker recipe! Thank you for sharing the story with it, too. I love it when recipes and foods become a piece of our history instead of merely ingredients mixed together to form something tasty.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Pamela thank you for taking a look and for commenting. Hope you and your daughter have a chance to try out the recipe.

      Have a nice holiday season

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 6 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      Fabulous recipe. Great background info -- very nice. Thanks for sharing. I'm sending this recipe on to my daughter -- like another one of yours that I sent.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Hiya Katiem, always glad when you drop in for a visit. Let me know how you like the Goulash.

      hope you're well

      regards Zsuzsy

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      I've heard of Hungarian Goulash so many times and yet never really knew how to make it. Thank you so much for the delightful story and the Heirloom Recipe! So nice of you to share :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      MickaOz, glad you liked it. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Hope you get a chance to try the Chicken Paprikas too.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      MickaOz 6 years ago

      Cooked up the Goulash on the weekend and it was a new fav in the house. Got 8 servings worth too! Another slowcook planned for tomorrow. Thanks for this :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      MickaOz, Chances are that it was Chicken Paprikash, you can find the recipe here https://hubpages.com/food/Chicken-Paprikas-A-Herit...

      thanks for the visit.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      MickaOz 6 years ago

      Wow sounds yummy! I just got a slowcooker so I'm heading to the markets on the weekend to try this dish. Last year when I was in Budapest I had some great food.

      I got "traditional" hungarian dinner cooked for me one night but can't remember what it was called. It was served with short pasta and the sauce was orangish (kinda like butter chicken). It easily served 15 people. Any ideas? It was really tasty. Thanks for this!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      seashore456, Glad you dropped by. The sign that fall is here is usually marked by the first big pot of Hungarian Goulash, which will be this coming weekend when my children and their families are going to come over. When you have a moment check out my hub about my experience with Chicken Paprikash.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • seashore456 profile image

      seashore456 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Zsuzy love your Hungarian Goulash recipe, will give it a try. I also have a Hungarian background and I love my dads Hungarian Chicken Paprikash. Best ever Goulash I have ever had is in Budapest.

      Great Hub by the way!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Andy so glad you like the recipe. Thank you for taking a look and for commenting.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      Andy Horne 6 years ago

      Zsuzsy,

      Fantastic recipe!

      Made it today and just finished my first bowl.

      Reminded me of my time in Budapest a couple of years ago.

      Cheers,

      Andy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 7 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      A Greek who's just learning to cook??? You're kidding right? You'll find it easy I'm sure. I learned how to make the worlds best eggplant moussaka from Nikki, my first friend here in Canada (who came at the same time as we did from Greece). She and her husband now own one of the best Greek restaurants in Toronto.

      Cornish Paties I will have to take a look.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 7 years ago from UK

      What a great story :-) ... I don't know abou the recipe, but as I am now learning to cook, I shall try to report. And don't think I won't. Gypsy Willow had a recipe online for Cornish Paties and I made it and sent her a photo of the finished product! As proof I shall sent

      it to you too :-))

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for taking a look and for commenting

      regards Zsuzsy

    • profile image

      speedsking 8 years ago from Seattle

      great hub! I lvoe goulash

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Claudia I'm so glad the hub brought back some good memories. Thanks for coming for a visit and for commenting.

      kindest regards Zsuzsy

    • ClaudiaP profile image

      ClaudiaP 8 years ago from California

      Hey! I love Goulash too! I lived very close to the Hungarian border, so I had the privilege to enjoy the Hungarian cuisine, which may not be very famous, but I just love it! I ate several kinds of Goulash in Hungary, at Hungarian friends' place and in our home. I cook it too and my husband likes it (not burnt) :) I also enjoyed reading the story in your hub in its details -I haven't heard the name "Ilanka" in a while and it brought back nice memories and made me smile. Thanks. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      RGraf! I used to nag my Grandma to tell me this story till she was so sick of it. I recently told it to my granddaughters for the first time and they loved it too.

      I just made a large pot of the Goulash last week again and it really is a nice feel homey recipe.

      Thanks for taking a look

      regards Zsuzsy

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      This sounds great. The story behind makes it sound better. I'm already imagining making it and telling the kids the story behind it.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Solarshingles! Thanks for coming by. Glad you like Hungarian goulash.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • solarshingles profile image

      solarshingles 8 years ago from london

      I can recall the smell/taste of any great dish I'd ever tasted, at once, and the goulash is one of them.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Marisue! Glad you came by. Thanks for your comment.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 8 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for your visit Sally. Cabbage rolls? Am I right? Huh-huh am I right???? I love guessing games. regards Zsuzsy

    • marisuewrites profile image

      marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

      Yum! I'm doing this one. I loved the story with the recipe. Great combo. and no fries necessary! Marisue

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Another wonderful story Zsuzsy! Your tales of life in the "old" country are both inspiring and entertaining.

      I just happen to have a large tin of Szeged in the kitchen, and I'm going to the butcher this afternoon. You can guess what we'll be having for supper this weekend.

      Best regards, S.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Angela! thanks for taking a look Let me know what you think.

      regards zsuzsy

    • Angela Harris profile image

      Angela Harris 9 years ago from Around the USA

      I love homemade soups and stews. I'm going to try this soon. Thanks for giving us the privilege of sharing such a special recipe.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Sylvia! Sorry about not answering to your comment before this (I was gone for a mini vacation to my daughters home). Hungarian Goulash can be made as spicy or as mild as your family likes. Add a little cayenne pepper for heat...Yum

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Sylvia Page profile image

      Sylvia Page 9 years ago from Malabe

      This peppery taste sounds just great for our taste and look forward to making it one of these days. Think I'll use the slow cooker method, thanks for the tip. I'm having to wrack my brains every day on what to make for dinner for an equally fussy family like your "great" and been innovating all the time. Our tastes are generally spicy and hot for lunch time meals and something milder for dinners and suppers. Zsuzsy I think I like to be your fan and share our little tips and tricks. I see that you are a person interested in crafts? Look forward to reading more of your hubs!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Isabella! I haven't had knedliky in years, I have to remember to dig out the recipes...Always enjoy your visits...regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Froggy! It even tastes better than it smelles...thanks for taking a look.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Princessa! I'm glad you came by and thanks for the comments.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Isabella Snow profile image

      Isabella Snow 9 years ago

      Recipe sounds delicious! Poor Illonka, I hope she enjoys her legacy! I love goulash and knedliky!

    • Froggy213 profile image

      Greg Boudonck 9 years ago from On A Mountain In Puerto Rico

      Sounds good,I think I smell it cooking

    • Princessa profile image

      Wendy Iturrizaga 9 years ago from France

      I loved the story, and i will try the recipe. Maybe I will get the same answer as IIonka as I am a "compulsive burner". My children even call toast: burnt bread... but they love it :-)

    • profile image

      Abhinaya 9 years ago

      Oh yes we do eat Tofu.Thanks Zsuzby.It is wonderful to know how you improvise things so easily.Great going on food recipes!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      CGull! If you like a stew you'll love this too...you should try it. It's not hard to make...regards Zsuzsy

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Abhinaya! Do you eat tofu? If yes cut the tofu into cubes and treat it exactly like the beef...It would cut down the cooking time to just as long as the potatoes are soft.....We could call it the Vegetarian Goulash...I like tofu...I must try this sometime...thanks for taking a look regards Zsuzsy

    • cgull8m profile image

      cgull8m 9 years ago from North Carolina

      I heard about Goulash but never tasted it. The photo itself looks Yummy :)

    • profile image

      Abhinaya 9 years ago

      Hungarian Goulash ZB?I am hungry.Pass me the dish please.....Can you suggest some veggies instead of beef? You are great cook.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Absolutely, possitively, can't waste a drop...the good part is that there is very little fat in the sauce...Thanks C-Lee for visiting and your comments

      regards Zsuzsy

    • C-Lee profile image

      C-Lee 9 years ago

      Yummm! I love this dish and the presentation here is great. Isn't the best part using the bread to soak up the gravy left swimming on the plate?

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Yes please let me know what you think after you've tried it.

      glad you came by regards Zsuzsy

    • creatingwealth profile image

      creatingwealth 9 years ago

      I collect recipes that easy to use and I personally like. I'll try yours and let you know. Thanks for sharing this recipe. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Let me know what you think.thanks for the visit

      regards Zsuzsy

    • chantelg4 profile image

      chantelg4 9 years ago from Northern Ontario

      I've never had this, will have to cook some for the family!

    • Night Writer profile image

      Night Writer 9 years ago from Canada

      Awesome! I'll be ready :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      I have tons of Hungarian recipes. If you get yourself a package of paprika; I'll hub a couple more of my other favorite Hungarian dishes next week. Zs

    • Night Writer profile image

      Night Writer 9 years ago from Canada

      Cool! Do you have more recipes like that? I've been trying to think of new things to prepare. One just gets tired of the same old routines eh?

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Paprika is one of the key flavors in a lot of Hungarian cooking. Thanks for having a look.

      regrds Zsuzsy

    • Night Writer profile image

      Night Writer 9 years ago from Canada

      Sounds yummy. I'd like to try this, but i don't think i have any paprika :(

      Great hub Zsuzsy!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for visiting Marye!

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Marye Audet profile image

      Marye Audet 9 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

      yummy! Great hub!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks for having a look. regards Zsuzsy

    • Tania101 profile image

      Tania101 9 years ago from Canada

      Love the story and the recipe. :)

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Barbara let me know what you think.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • BarbaraMay profile image

      BarbaraMay 9 years ago from Canada

      I know what I'm making for supper tomorrow! Yummers. Thanks Zsusy Bee!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Thanks Patty for taking a look.

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image

      Patty Inglish 9 years ago from North America

      Nice recipe and good story!

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image
      Author

      Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      I always wondered if it was because of my roots that I love the Goulash but then I just made some couple of weeks ago ...no...its just because it really tastes great. I've been collecting these old stories for a long time. I love them, they intrigues me. Thanks for taking a look Steph. regards Zsuzsy

    • stephhicks68 profile image

      Stephanie Hicks 9 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Oh my gosh - I don't know what I like more, the story, or the recipe! Great fun! Thanks. :)

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