One of my favorite meals growing up was goulash. Those delicious elbow noodles with ground beef and tomato sauce. Sometimes they were even baked with cheese. It only took second prize to my beloved hot dogs.
Years later I still don’t think I have grown out of my love of the noodle coated with tomato sauce in a beefy sauce, although my tastes have evolved and I add an array of vegetables to the mix now. It is just a comfort food.
So, you can imagine my excitement when my fella and I decided to take a road trip to the Czech Republic to get some goulash. My first European goulash. I contemplated whether it would be as good as my mothers or if would be like the soupy goulash with chunks of green peppers that my friend’s mom made. Either way, I was sure it was going to be great.
After driving a few hours and crossing the Czech border, we reached our final destination (that I still can’t pronounce) and sought out a place that looked good to eat. We found a quiet bar/restaurant with an outside deck. I could not read a word on the menu and to be quite honest, I had never even seen a Slavic language in written form. It was quite an experience. Luckily, my guy had grown up in East Germany, so he had some idea and managed to order us two beers and two plates of goulash.
About twenty minutes later our dishes arrived. I looked at mine and did not like what I saw. It wasn’t that it looked bad, it just didn’t look like goulash. What was this scam they were trying to pull? Where were the noodles and what kind of meat was that? What was that weird looking bread with no crust? I tried to explain that we had received the wrong meals. This didn’t go over so well because at this point in time I still could not speak German and my partner has never spoken great English. Then there was the Czech component. The poor waiter is standing there as I am babbling on and on about noodles and ground beef and the wrong dish being delivered, looking at me as if I had three heads.
After awhile, I just gave up and decided to eat what was put in front of me. It is, apparently, the norm for goulash in these parts. It is not bad – if you aren’t expecting something else. My fella could eat it morning, noon and night.
Here is my recipe for goulash. It has a lot of ingredients, but this dish is super easy to make and can even be prepared in a slow cooker.
1000 gram stew meat (beef or pork)
4 cooking onions, sliced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 TBSP lard (or butter or oil)
2 cups water
1 TBSP mustard
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
1.5 TBSP sweet paprika
1.5 TBSP hot paprika
1 TBSP smoked paprika
1 TBSP garlic powder
2 tsp marjoram
1/4 tsp ground caraway seeds
1 TBSP tomato paste
1 tsp black pepper
salt, to taste (add at the very end)
- Melt your cooking fat and add the meat. Brown the meat.
- Add the peppers and onions and saute for an additional 3 – minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients except the salt.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until the meat is melt in your mouth tender – about 3 hours. Serve with boiled potatoes or Knödel and braised red cabbage if you’ve got it.
This recipe can, of course, be suited to personal preferences. I don’t really like super spicy foods anymore, but this dish can be really good prepared with hot peppers. A good friend of me also substitutes wine for the water, but I don’t usually cook with alcohol. Play around with the recipe – it is a very forgiving one!
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