I’m delighted to share the goulash recipe I made recently because it manifests another method of preserving food, and is so timely for a January winter day. Goulash, or gulyás, is the traditional stew of Hungary. Its origin has been traced to the 9th century as the food prepared by the Magyar shepherds near the Ural Mountains. Before setting out with their flocks, they prepared a portable food stock by slowly cooking cut-up meats with onions and other flavorings until the liquids had been absorbed. The stew was then dried in the sun and packed into bags made of sheep’s stomachs. At mealtime, water was added to a portion of the meat to reconstitute it into a soup. During the 18th century, paprika, which originated in Mexico and Central America, was added to the modern goulash, and today it is associated with the dish. The classic kettle cooking was modified – instead frying cubes of beef with onion in lard. Garlic, caraway seeds, tomatoes, green and red peppers, and potatoes completed the stew. Another stew variation involves adding sauerkraut to the frying mix and sour cream at the end and then serving it with some radish on top.
Goulash with sauerkraut
- 3 big red peppers roasted at 360oF for an hour, ground to a smooth paste without the seeds
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 2 Lb Beef cut to 1.5” cubes
- 3 big carrots
- 2 potatoes or kohlrabi or a mix of both
- 4 white or yellow onions
- 4 garlic cloves
- 3 tbsp paprika (plus optional ½ tsp smoked paprika)
- 1 tbsp carawayseeds
- 1 tsp cayenne
- 5 tbsp tomatoes paste
- A few cherry tomatoes crushed and blended
- 6 cups broth or water
- 3 tbsp sauerkraut
- Salt and pepper
- For garnish: sour cream, reddish and black pepper
- Cut the onions into slices and mince the garlic. Warm 3 tbsp. oil in a big heavy pot and fry the onions for about 10 minutes. In mid to low flame.
- In the last 2 minutes, add the garlic and the sauerkraut. Take off the flame and set it aside.
- Warm up the rest of the oil in a big skillet and seer the beef cubes for about 5 minutes until they are all brown.
- Add to the skillet: paprika, cayenne, caraway seeds, and tomato paste, and stir up the mix for a few minutes; be aware not to burn the mixture.
- Add the meat mix to the onions and mix. Add the broth, red-pepper paste, cherry-tomato paste, carrots, and potatoes.
- Bring to a boil and cook for two hours on a small flame. Taste for correction and add spices and salt accordingly.
- When serving, have some sour cream, reddish and black pepper on the top, and make sure to have a good bread next to it, preferably white sourdough or, as I like it, rye sourdough.