If you’re like most people at the tail end of this frigid first week of January, you’re likely torn between wanting to “do good” for yourself by cooking healthy foods with your eye on the long-off prize of bathing suit season (no matter how improbable it seems as your fingertips numb after spending only half a block exposed) and wanting to “hibernate” with indulgent food that sticks to your ribs, promising to keep you warm and padded until spring comes, and sadly thereafter.
Fortunately, not every meal picks sides. And since I know you didn’t believe that we only ate a cucumber salad for dinner a few nights ago, it is clearly time to tell you about that evening’s other Austro-Hungarian dispatch: goulash.
Gooooouuuulash. I just sigh thinking about how delicious it was. Part stew, part soup, goulash a spicy beef dish originally from Hungary (gulyas were herdsmen, I have learned) but found throughout central and eastern Europe, notably those parts that once comprised Austro-Hungarian Empire. It’s got onions, red peppers and a lot of sweet paprika. Yes, paprika. Alex thinks this dish was just an excuse to pick up my fourth bottle of paprika (already in residence: basic flavorless paprika, Spanish smoked, Spanish spicy and smoked) this time the sweet Hungarian variety. And he’s right: it was.
But once I tried it, I knew it was so much more–rich, mildly spicy, warm, filling. I think it’s exactly what we all need right now. Well, actually, I need to be back on the beach in Aruba, but since that’s obviously not in the cards today, I’ll settle for some of your goulash once it is ready. Can I come over?
One Year Ago: World Peace Cookies
Adapted from Gourmet, December 1994
Goulash can be made into either a soup or stew, and the latter can be spooned over egg noodles, potatoes or even gnocchi–how awesome does that sound? Also: This tastes so much better the next day, it is almost a shame to eat it the day you make it. Trust me.
Makes about 16 cups, serving 12
5 slices bacon, chopped
3 pounds boneless chuck, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 medium onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), chopped fine
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons paprika (preferably Hungarian sweet*)
1 1/2 teaspoons caraway seeds
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
1/4 cup tomato paste
5 cups beef broth
1 to 5 cups water or beer (use the former to make a stew, the latter to make a soup)
1 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine
In an 8-quart heavy kettle cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In fat remaining in kettle brown chuck in small batches over high heat, transferring it as browned with slotted spoon to bowl.
Reduce heat to moderate and add oil. Add onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until golden. Stir in paprika, caraway seeds, and flour and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Whisk in vinegar and tomato paste and cook, whisking, 1 minute. (Mixture will be very thick.) Stir in broth, water, salt, bell peppers, bacon, and chuck and bring to a boil, stirring. Simmer soup, covered, stirring occasionally, 60 to 75 minutes.
Season soup with salt and pepper. Soup may be made 3 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Reheat soup, thinning with water if desired.
* New Yorkers, we actually found this at Gristedes. Non-New Yorkers, Gristedes is a totally generic grocery store. Oddly, Whole Foods didn’t have it, but they could have been out. Looks like it is available on the Web as well.
105 comments on goulash
Serves 12! Eek! I live alone, so please tell me this recipe can be easily halved and/or easily frozen. Otherwise, I’ll be eating goulash for two weeks — and I’ll never want to see it again. Even if I manage to pawn a lot off on other single co-workers, which I also do.
We definitely halved it, and still had plenty.
I concur, the goulash tastes waaay better the following day. Like most stews and chili! Your goulash looks lovely!!
When are you going to move CLOSER so I can pop in with a surprise bottle of wine for dinner?
Yay goulash! I always make stuff like this the day before, it’s always so much better and can be done while making that night’s dinner without too much extra effort. I actually used this recipe once, but I didn’t put in as much vinegar as it called for, I don’t know why, but I couldn’t bring myself to use a 1/4 cup of vinegar in a stew, what did you think?
In theory, I love the brightness that vinegar brings to soups and stews. In practice, and given that I actually made this before New Years, and I lost a lot of brain cells on New Years Eve, I seriously think I may have forgotten to add the vinegar. It’s totally possible, I had a friend over that night and we were talking a lot so its likely I forgot an ingredient. I am no multitasker.
Your food pictures are so nice. Do you use special lighting? Sometimes my photos come out great — and others — well not so good.
This looks fantastic. I’ve always wanted to try goulash, and I love having leftovers, so I’m going to give this one a shot.
Your dish may taste wonderful but I am sorry to say that it has very little to do with the Hungarian gulyÃƒÂ¡s :-)
I grew up in Hungary, and for us gulyÃƒÂ¡s is a liquid soup which we never spoon over pasta or potatoes. We may add a few of either or both to it, however.
The stew version similar to what you made, never!!! with vinegar but often with red wine ;-), is called pÃƒÂ¶rkÃƒÂ¶lt.
Yes! Came here to say this.
My father, born & raised in Hungary, had 2 caveats when it came to making Goulash:
1. Never, ever add tomatoes.
2. Always “cook” the paprika. He’d cook the paprika in the oil/fat in order to develop the flavor. But don’t cook it too long or it’ll turn bitter.
I never heard of adding vinegar to it.
Oh, and use a mix of sweet & hot paprika to tune the flavor to his taste.
yum! anything with multiple tablespoons of paprika has got to be delicious. in budapest, they serve you salt and paprika at the table instead of salt and pepper. i loved it!
I’ve never had it, but that sounds awesome. I also really dig the color in this set of photos. I’ll have to add this one to the to-try-soon list.
I don’t eat red meat or pork and this is making me jealous. I’m gonna try it with turkey thighs and prayer.
My favorite Hungarian paprika (originally recommended by my Hungarian friends) is the Pride of Szeged brand, in a red and white can. They have both a hot and a sweet. And while the Gourmet recipe isn’t really gulyas, it sure looks good!
Hi Smitten! Long time lurker and maker of your recipes…. but have recently made a lifestyle transition to the raw foods diet. I have other food blogs and recipes to look at… but they are just not YOU. Y’ know? Any chance you would consider exploring the “uncooking” world of raw foods once in a while? It’s fab… honestly, after being raw for 2 months… I love it. Just a suggestion… it’s a whole nother cuisine to explore.
Ooh, goulash. It’s one of my favorites from my childhood. My mom made it with pieces of meat (beef-stew style), but otherwise, it looks really similar.
OMG. My husband seems to collect paprika. When we moved – I threw away seven (7) bottles of paprika. His magyar roots call to him every time he walks down the spice aisle at Publix.
This looks fantastic. I’m making this Saturday night. Thanks!
My grandma and mom used to make a Texas-style (aka white trash) goulash they called “The More Dish,” or perhaps “The Moore Dish.” I never knew whether the title was supposed to signify the tastiness of the meal or just contained the family name because a relative had invented it as a way to use cheap ground hamburger meat.
I preferred the Texan version of beef stroganoff, which consisted of ground beef sauteed with onions, mixed with a massive tub of full-fat sour cream and served over egg noodles. Somehow I think Alex would approve.
Ground beef does not mean “Texas-style”, Ang. That doesn’t even make sense. And “Texas-style” is not another way of saying “white trash”, either. Again…doesn’t make sense. Your mom and grandma have their own vernacular and expectations they obviously passed down to you and you’ve obviously never examined any of it, but it’s not based in reality. As you obviously know, “white trash” is not region or state specific. You have family in other states and countries, right?
Sounds yum. Though the only thing I can think right now is how come Whole Foods had no sweet Hungarian paprika? I get that at Key Foods – which is WAAAY more generic than Gristede’s.
I’m a fan of all things Hungarian. One of my many fantastic contentions (having sampled both) is that the only thing Austria really got out of the Austro-Hungarian empire was the knowledge of pastries that make Vienna food-famous. Those Hungarians know what they’re about.
I also check in with Cooking Light every month along with Bon Appetit and Food & Wine because reading those second two makes me extra-large kitchen geeking. Here’s their goulash from a year ago. It’s tasty as well (though I go with a heavier hand on the caraway for that extra-rye-bread-smelling apartment)
Dan — That was exactly what I found amusing–that a more old-school supermarket carried something that Whole Foods (also: the Garden of Eden by us) did not. I figured I could at least save New Yorkers a trip with that tidbit. I know how awful it is to walk from store to store when it is 15 degrees out!
I used to eat goulash when I lived in Brooklyn, and then I graduated as a PROFESSIONAL CHEF from Peter Kump’s Culinary School and stopped making it.
But now I live in Florida (where my fourth ex-husband dumped me when he ran off with a 19-year old).
Times are a bit rough and my roommate (she works nights you understand) gets really upset when I smell up our rented trailer house with strong cooking odors.
So I am going to try your recipe this weekend. It really looks good. Plus my new boyfriend “THE MANAGER” (he has no teeth left) should be able to eat it with no problem.
firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my website at MySpace (chiffonade)
This looks awesome! I can’t wait to make it for my Hungarian grandmother. I only remember her cooking goulash one time, but we had something similar to your cucumber salad all of the time, only my grandmother adds a bit of mayo or perhaps sour cream to the dressing because it is white and a touch creamy. But the method is pretty much the same otherwise.
I would serve this over the dumplings we always eat with chicken — egg and flour mixed to make a sticky batter that you then “cut” into boiling water. They’re light and quick and mine never look quick right. I don’t know if they’re traditional Hungarian dumplings or not, but that’s what my Hungarian family’s been eating for decades.
Hi! Just wanted to let you know that your RSS feed doesn’t seem to be working properly. I can’t add your blog (it gives me an error), although I’ve been able to add over 10 other blogs to my feed today.
Hi anon — Just realized it yesterday and will hopefully have it fixed soon. It is at the very top of our priority list. Very frustrating! In the meanwhile, it is still functioning as in updating new posts as they arrive. You can drop the URL (http://feeds.feedburner.com/smittenkitchen) in your RSS reader (I was able to do so in Google Reader) manually. I hope that helps in the meanwhile!
Deb – I am a fellow paprika collector! I recently used some of my sweet hungarian paprika to make some liptauer, and it is my new favourite dip/spread. I may even need to go out and get some more paprika soon!
Congrats on a fantastic year or blogging! I’ve tagged you – check it out on my blog.
Joanna, I am so intrigued to hear that you made Liptauer! I ordered some for a pretty penny from Zingerman’s, and loved it, but had no idea that you could make it! If you’re up for sharing please do tell!
I admit, I am ignorant when it comes to paprika. All I have is that basic tasteless kind you mentioned that you use only when you need a little splash of color on your deviled eggs (like I ever make those…). I’ve heard of the smoky paprika and the spicy, and now the sweet from you. Yet for some reason I’ve never bought any of them and tried them out. I think my interest is officially peaked enough to go experimenting now. By the way, your goulash looks fabulous. Perfect winter dinner. Yum!
Charming But Single ~ I think the cucumber salad recipe you’re talking about uses sour cream, not mayo. My German grandmother used to make it all the time – just sour cream thinned with vinegar, salt & pepper, maybe a little dill. Oh, and very thinly sliced onions, separated into rings (optional).
Its approaching 40 degree C here in Australia and I can barely manage anything other than cold noodles, but this looks delicious and I must admit that I’m getting a bit of a craving!
first cucumber salad, now goulash — it’s like my hungarian grandma (or “nuj-mamma”, probably not the right spelling) is still alive. All you need to make is cabbage noodles or struedel tomorrow and i will be a happy girl. I have many Hungarian cookbooks if you’re looking for recipes.
Susie — You’re probably right, because my grandmother used to put a little onion in the salad as well. And lots and lots of black pepper. Mmmmm.
Deb…decided in the supermarket to make this goulash (without your recipe)…only I never bought red peppers this week. Think I’ll just sub carrots — if I step into the market again, I’ll impulse shop and well you know how that goes!!!!!!!
I made this tonight, and seriously screwed up almost every step of the recipe. Even though I screwed up what is an unbelievably easy thing to do, it still tasted fabulous. (We’re talking nearly PUREED onions thanks to being lazy and thinking I knew how to use my new food processor. Spilling paprika. Not cutting the meat into small enough pieces. Everything.) Thanks for passing it on!
Authentic or not, your goulash looks like the perfect thing on a chilly evening. My Hungarian mother-in-law makes it a lot. Hers is kind of half way between a soup and a stew. She also makes these spaetzle-like dumplings to go with it too. Way better than plain noodles!
Lovely recipe. I am a indian, but my family loves pasta. I will surely try this one. I am a vegetarian, could you suggest some vegetarian options?
Lovvvvve paprika heavy dishes. We’re addicted to the smoked paprika here…will put it on and in and around and under evvvvvvverything. I havn’t used my sweet paprika so much because it’s so hard to reach past the smoked paprika…it wants to used so bad.
Can this be frozen? I am a young studio-dwelling San Franciscan spending all her money flying to grad school interviews and foreseeing all other cash going to tuition in a few months… So I am trying to find good freeze-able recipes so I am always stocked with deliciousness. And you have a lot of that! My mom thinks I am addicted to your website and therefore Dori Greenspan frequented my Christmas Cookie lineup too. Not a bad thing!
This Goulash is very reminiscent of what I used get at the little imbiss’ along the streets of Nurnberg and Berlin Germany when I lived there. (Imbiss’ are little food stands that serve all kinds of food the eat while out walking). Some of the ones in Nurnberg would actually make it with potatoes instead of pasta for a more traditional stew. A few even did both: noodles and potatoes. Anyway you make it, it’s still one of my favorite foods to eat in the winter. Now if I could just get a glass of gluweine to go with it, I might just be warmed up enough to go out a shovel the driveway!
well a gulash is something different. and its more simple. take 1 part meat, 1 part onion and one part red paprika. fry onion(slices) and. add meat(gib lumps) and paprika(slices). add a big portion of paprika powder and fill it up with beer untill everything is covered. then led it steam for as long as it takes to get the liquid away. THAT and nothing elese is a gulasch. take it from a guy who lived in hungaria and used to cook there…and for heavens sake….no pasta or poatoes in there. a gulasch is served with dumplings. who wants to know how they are prepaired….email me at email@example.com
Thanks for always publishing delicious recipes and delightful pictures. As a very “beginner” cook I really enjoy your write-ups and appreciate the clarity you use when speaking about each dish. Keep them coming!
Whoa my gosh. Made this tonight, exactly as recipe instructs except for omission of nasty (sorry!) caraway seeds. Perhaps the best beef stew-type thing I’ve I’ve ever eaten; precidely the dinner I wanted today – thank you!
That goulash sounds pretty tasty and looks good.
Okay – so I made this (the FULL recipe – not sure what I was thinking – it’s just me and my new hubbie) yesterday so that we can enjoy today. Will report back. Will also be freezing it to enjoy later!
Deb! Believe it or not, I have never tried goulash. Your vivid photos and wonderful description put me in denial too!
That looks divine! I watched Jamie Oliver’s new show on Food Network last night and he made a pork goulash that totally got me in the mood. The Weight Watchers diet may be delayed another week…
Goulash with pasta? That’s an interesting choice. Next you should try paprikas, which is the ultimate in comfort food for my oh-so-Eastern-European family (Mom is Slovak, Dad is Hungarian).
Hungarian goulash is my husband’s favorite dish. My recipe is similiar to yours, but I add a third meat – sausage, normally chizoro.
Jamie Oliver just made goulash last night on a sneak preview of his new show and it looked fantastic. And now here you are with goulash. I clearly need to make some goulash. I made your chicken and dumplings and it was AMAZING! Amazing! Thanks.
Rachel – Sorry for the delayed reply! I can’t link you to anywhere for the liptauer recipe I used because it was a mish-mash of things, but I think there is one on Epicurious. I will try to post the liptauer on my blog in the next couple of weeks though. It’s very simple though – no need to spend a fortune!
Did you use water or beer in yours? If you did use beer, is there any particular kind that you would recommend? (Would dark work better than light…or does that turn it into Beligian stew? ;)
As a long-time lurker and never commenter, I have to say I make pretty much everything you post, Deb. Thanks for having a kick ass palate and for making such normal, do-able meals. The galettes, the pumpkin bread pudding, the short ribs, this goulash… the list goes on and on. Thanks for going through all the Epicurious/Gourmet/Bon Appetit/Food & Wines so I don’t have to!
Made the goulash today! I used the hungarian sweet paprika (bulk) from New Season’s (DELISH). I ended up splitting my batch in 1/2 halfway through, because I wasnt sure if the seeds might make it taste too much like dark rye bread, which Im not a fan of. So, I made 1/2 with, 1/2 without. I also left out the vinegar.
You know what? When I compared one goulash to the other, I really liked the addition of the caraway seeds!….they add a really nice depth of earthy flavor that wasnt overpowering, but really melded with the other flavors. To both batches I added a cup of beer, and an additional cup of beef broth. I think the beer added a really nice richness and more depth to the flavor as well. In anycase, I just want to encourage anyone out there to do try the addition of the caraway seeds & beer too if you’re looking for a deeper & richer flavored (and really awesome smelling) goulash.
I’ve been reading awhile, but the goulash was the first thing I’ve cooked. Something in my Hungarian heritage stirred within me and I knew I must try it. The results were as promised – delicious. It was soupier than I would have perferred (added 6 cups of liquid total). So now I know for next time.
I wanted to try beer in it, but realized too late we were out and I live in Indiana – no beer purchases on Sunday. Bummer.
I stumbled upon this website, and thought this looked like a delicious recipe, so tried making it this weekend. I think I might have goulash coming out of my ears, but if I like it when I try it tonight, I’ll bring it in to my work people :-)
I wish I would have thought it OK to 1/2 the recipe, because I don’t really need 12 servings, but I’m hoping it freezes nicely.
Some of your Hungarian fans seem quite critical but Iâ€™m here referencing the quintessential Hungarian cookbook which I acquired while living in Budapest – 99 Magyaros Etel (99 Hungarian dishes) – whichhas a recipe for Gulyasleves (Goulash soup)including both tomatoes and peppers. Like any traditional cuisines there are endless variations. I thought your version was just wonderful.
I live in Austria, I made this yesterday, and I and my Austrian boyfriend thought it was delicious! He prefers things even more spicier but when it comes down to it, his taste test ended up being a meal :-) I knew I didn’t need 12 servings so I halved everything. Also I used a bullion cube for the beef stock, one of my boyfriend’s 4 types of paprika, and half of cup of some of his beer. And it still turned out wonderful! (And what I loved about this goulasch thing in Austria is that when I went to the store for the meat, the package actually said “Goulaschfleisch” – goulash meat!)
This was a nice recipe. It didn’t make nearly 12 servings (but perhaps we were gluttons?) — more like 7 or 8.
I made this for a family dinner with my mom, brother and boyfriend. It was a hit, despite my conclusions that 1) I’m not a huge goulash lover. give me boeuf bourguignon instead any day; and 2) this recipe would be improved with less caraway, and the addition of a few potatoes, a bay leaf, and a bit of cayenne.
Thanks for sharing!
I made this today and even cutting the recipe in half and using only 0.5 cups beer for the second liquid it was still REALLY liquidy and like a soup, not a stew! I wonder where I went wrong…next time I’d only pour in maybe 2 cups liquid total. But overall it smells delicious!
I made this last night and it filled the house with the *most* enticing smells. It was difficult but we waited the prerequisite minimum of one day and had it for dinner tonight. It’s exactly like you said – rich, complex, and slightly spicy-sweet from the paprika. So. Good. Thank you so much Deb for posting such gorgeous photos and delicious-sounding recipe! It really lured me in, for which my household thanks you. :-)
(Btw, I used almost everything as written except with chicken thighs instead of beef because that’s what we had in the freezer. I used 1 cup Russian Imperial Stout for the beer. I might try stewing it for less time if I use chicken again.)
You probably know already because you probably follow Elise too…. but some a$$hat is copying posts (and has copied this one in particular) and claimed it as his own. Elise has advice on what to do to take him down :) Go get ‘im.
PS this looks AWESOME and I’m so going to have to make it. Thanks for posting it. And maybe it’s a blessing in disguise since I now have found a new food blog :D
A friend of mine sent me to your site for the first time last week and I have been HOOKED since! It’s a great site, Deb! Great work!
To add my 2 cents to this particular recipe…I’ve been making this for a few years now. While the goulash is simmering, I will drop in 1-2 cored and quartered apples, depending if I’m making a full batch or halving the recipe, and just let it stew in the broth. I remove and discard them at the end. I find that they help mellow out the vinegar a bit and lends a slightly sweet flavor to the dish.
comment 22, therealchiffonade- his comment makes me laugh, is it suppose to be serious?
Funny, I’d missed that one but if I remember correctly I was getting a lot of comments from this person for a while, all crazy, usually under different names with the same story, and eventually just redirected them to spam.
Just made this again tonight. So good. I’ve come to adding the egg noodles directly to the stew liquid to cook in the very last minutes. They soak up all the delicious flavor. THANKS for a great dish!
From a first generation Canadian with a Hungarian background….THANK YOU!! You are my hero! I haven’t had Goulash in at least 10 years since my grandmother passwed away. She was a bit funny when it came to ‘her’ recipes, she wouldn’t give you the entire thing, because then she wouldn’t be needed. Can’t wait to make this!!! Thank you again!
Hi Deb! Do you think this could be adapted to ground beef? Thanks!
I think it should work fine.
Very much like my German grandmother made – I also like to add a lot of paprika, but never thought to add red pepper. Will make again – a specialty of mine!
First, many many thanks for such a wonderful website!
Regarding this recipe: when you say “1 to 5 cups water or beer (use the former to make a stew, the latter to make a soup)” does ‘the former’ refer the 1-5 cups OR the water or beer?”
Ha! Excellent question. The former would be one cup; the latter, 5 cups. Though 5 cups of beer sounds like a lot to me right now and I hesitate to encourage it. I might swap in more beef broth for a soup.
This was amazing! So delicious! I took your suggestion and we ate it on the second day – glad we did!
I would add the caveat to this recipe that it is quite easy to burn the flour when it is added, as I did – definitely stir constantly and maybe turn down the heat. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our goulosh immensely! I only put in 4 cups of beef broth and a bottle of beer and it was a nice inbetween of soup and stew, I don’t think the five cups of beef broth are necessary.
what kind of beer? lager, stout, ale? or something czech/hungarian?
Did anyone else find their’s really really soupy?
I use your website as a cookbook, and I usually just lurk, but I had to post for once.
I am also Hungarian, and I am not going to post yet another angry comment about this recipenot being a true goulash recipe (although indeed, it is not). But I do want to bring your attention to a point even Hungarians don’t seem to be aware of. The charm of authentic Hungarian cooking resides in its utter simplicity. Hungarian dishes are wholesome and tasty specifically because they aren’t refined. Many a Hungarian cook has never used a scale or measuring cup in their entire lives, their favorite cooking tool being their hands.
All this to say that, even though there is nothing wrong with innovating, people miss out on a lot by trying to refine centuries old recipes. Goulash has survived for so long because anybody can make it and as long as you keep it simple, you get the flavour right every time. The above recipe sure sounds great, but its complexity takes away from its truly awesome character. It is, after all, meant to be a simple peasant dish that herders would cook out in the open on twig fires (I think we can agree that herders weren’t into carrying a heavy bag full of ingredients).
Here is what you need to do to this dish to bring it much closer to the original dish. Don’t worry, it will not be any more unhealthy and it will only taste better. Please, trust simplicity, it can be a winner more than you know.
1. Remove the bacon, the garlic and the tomato paste.
2. Replace the vegetable oil with animal fat. Hungarians use pork fat (I believe Tenderflake would be it) which can be hard to find in North America, which is why I use duck fat. You could use bacon cooking juice, but then, revise the amount of salt used.
3. Please don’t use beer!
4. Replace the broth with water.
5. Please, don’t use vinegar! Of all the things that are wrong with this recipe if you want to call it goulash, this is the worst offender. You could use a few spoonfuls of red wine if you must, but no vinegar, I beg of you!
6. Instead of chopped bell peppers, use two bell peppers (the original calls for Hungarian Wax, by the way, which is close to Cubanel peppers if you want to try it), a tomato and an onion, halved, all of which you remove before serving. This would be the Hungarian equivalent of the carrot-celery-onion combination the French use in court bouillon.
7. Use chunkier beef, closer to one inch in size.
I urge you to try this. The combination of beef, caraway seeds, sweet paprika and the halved vegetables is what makes the taste of this dish, and not much else is needed. I consider that refining this dish destroys its character.
I am posting again to avoid writing long posts.
The full name of this dish is gulyas leves, which literally means herder soup. Needless to say, this is not meant to be thick. You are meant to eat it with a spoon out of a bowl with no accompaniment whatsoever save for a slice of crusty bread if you must. Because it is quite a hearty soup, it is not used as an entree. Instead, it is followed by some kind of sweet dough to make it into a complete meal. In our family, it is most often followed by crepes, rolled up with your favorite jam inside or balls of dough that contain a whole plum, cherry or apricot inside, stone removed, and then rolled into breadcrumbs, served with a mix of confectioner’s sugar and ground cinnamon spooned over (basically a dumpling).
Many Hungarians add little bits of homemade noodles to this, although you could substitute any small soup pasta. The Hungarian way is nokedli, which is, once cooked, very similar to gnocchi, except it uses semolina in lieu of potatoes and the raw dough is softer. When the goulash is ready, you bring it to a boil and dump these little bits of dough in there to cook for just a few minutes. We use a typically Hungarian implement for this, called a nokedliszaggato, roughly noodle cutter in English. It looks like a frying pan, but it is entirely made of stainless steel and has holes all over the bottom. You place this on top of your cooking pot and put the ball of noodle dough in it, then vigourously scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon, which has the effect of dropping a bunch of irregularly shaped noodles into the pot. By the way, we also cook these in plain salted water to use much like pasta is used, occasionally dropping a few beaten eggs onto the resulting drained hot noodles and stirring to create a carbonara effect, which we serve with a simple salad of greens. Here is a link: http://pszichowellness-konyha.blogspot.com/2010/05/nokedli.html
These noodles are the traditional side dish to chicken paprikash, another Hungarian dish often abused by overly refined North American recipes.
Oh, one last thing. Someone above mentioned that their father cooks the paprika before adding anything else in the dish, but not too long because it then turns bitter. I just want to add to that that I know many people refrain from using paprika, saying it is bland, and these people only use it as colouring.
The trick to paprika is precisely to cook it in fat or oil. That is the only way the flavour comes out of it. It is true that it turns bitter if you overcook it, so make sure you cook it in plenty of oil/fat and to not cook it for more than a minute. Sprinkling paprika on dishes is useless and so is adding it at the end to finish a dish. The only way to have your food taste of paprika is to cook the paprika in fat or oil.
I studied abroad in Prague one summer, and made weekly trips to an underground Hungarian restaurant that served goulash in a bread bowl. I seriously became addicted to it. Anyway, I searched high and low for a couple of years before coming across this recipe and have to say that it’s sooo delicious and very close to what I’ve been jonesing for. I add more red peppers (usually double) because the goulash I had in Prague was very heavy on the red pepper flavor. Also, I reduce the liquid in the recipe, but that’s just a personal preference. Needless to say, I’m hooked on smitten kitchen!
Made this recipe tonight for my husband’s birthday dinner along with your cucumber salad. Yum! Another total hit! My 12 year old said that itbwas his new favorite meal. Then we had a whole conversation about you and how tiny your kitchen REALLY is– and in tried to explain tn the kids how small kitchens are I’m NYC. I miss my old City apt! Anyway, I love that whenever I cook something that you recommend that the meal is delicious! Thank you so much! Can’t wait to buy your cookbook! When is it coming out already? ;)
As the author of five cookbooks, I’d like to offer a quick thought to those who take umbrage at the use of goulash. Indeed, if we all made one goulash recipe and never innovated we would never progress. Make what you consider to be your goulash, or if you want something new, try this goulash. There is not just one version of lasagna or tacos or any dish. For heaven’s sake, get off that high horse.
“googled” goulash yesterday and got a link to your site. This made me happy, since I have tried several of your recipes and loved each of them. Made this last night along with some fresh egg noodles and it was delicious. Thanks!
Tis true. I’m Hungarian, both parents from Hungary. It’s not goulash. It’s closer to parikash ( right colors, over noodles, except there is no bacon or garlic). This is a long-standing beef (no pun intended) that Hungarians have about goulash. It’s almost never authentic and considering it’s usually the only food people associate with Hungary, we get a bit rankly about it ( factor in a century of foreign occupation and goulash becomes a veritable metaphor for all the ways we were wronged and how we just still so misunderstood. *sobs*). This is not to say that these North American versions aren’t tasty. And thumbs up for celebrating paprika. It’s a spice usually overlooked except for sprinkling on deviled eggs and since most of Hungarian cuisine is based on it, it’s lovely to see it highlighted.
Victoria: “We use a typically Hungarian implement for this, called a nokedliszaggato”. This sentence is beautiful (gyonyoru) …
Made this last night (a half recipe!) as I had everything other than the caraway seeds and the red peppers in the house (grocery shopping is my nemesis) – it was delicious and the OH loved it! Another Smitten Kitchen win.
This was great!! I also halved it. My only complaint is that the caraway seeds over-power the dish. Next time I will use a smaller amount. But you are so right about it being better the next day! Absolutely delicious leftovers. Win.
Delicious and freezer friendly!
This is my first SK recipe-following. I get lost in this site and it’s like a culinary hallucination. Every single thing looks like the most delicious thing in the world. I find myself slobbering and crying over it alot.
My try at this recipe came out good, I had too much heat and overcooked the mixture after adding the flour. It stuck to the bottom like crazy, gooped up my spoon.. there is probably a good industrial use for the concoction paste. Next time I’m going to go much easier. When finished it was dark and dreamy, tasted great with the spaetzle, a fresh salad with a superlight vinaigrette, and good french bread. It helped that it was very cold outside and the plates were all steaming deliciously.
I used 1 cup of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, didn’t have caraway seeds so somehow I just guessed that fennel seeds would be good since they’re seeds. Fuzzy logic there, thankfully didn’t really show up in the taste.
Love this site!
I’m going to make this tonight. Have been feeling a little under the weather and I think some serious comfort food is in order. My parents used to make goulash when I was a kid, but the kind with ground beef and macaroni. I used to call it ‘ew-lash’. However, this recipe is calling my name right now and I think as with all SK recipes, I’ll be delighted. :-)
Looks wonderful. I really love beef stews that are hearty. I have to say I never eat it with noodles nor pasta. Sometimes I make them with vegetables and potatoes, and sometimes meant to be served with rice. I just made a goulash that’s just 400 calories per generous serving and it was just amazingly good. You can check my blog if you are interested.
I made this dish tonight with local wild boar from the market and homemade spätzle, and I must say it was delicious! I added carrots, because I had ’em, but shhh– don’t tell the neighbors… Thanks!
So, I have a super picky eater (alas, not a toddler so there is little hope of him growing out of it), who won’t eat any onion or peppers that he can see–if I mince fine enough, will the onion and pepper break down enough to slip detection?
It’s worth trying, I think. If you have a food processor, you could even pulse it in there until it’s finely chopped before cooking it down. You’ll lose the texture, not flavor.
Thank you! I’m seriously looking forward to a giant pot of this over the weekend.
Why do think that the red bell pepper and onion make-up for the addtion of the truth… potatoes and carrots? this sounds like an L.A. version. I looked up traditional Hungarian Goulash in Hungary kown as Gulyás and the addition of small egg noddles is just a more mordern version in Hungary yet they still use the potaoes and carrots… you should not have shown up in my ‘traditional Hungarian goulash w/ egg noodles’. You should be ashamed of yourself!!!!!
This is so good. Winter comfort in a bowl. As someone who usually tweaks recipes to personal taste, I didn’t do anything to this recipe. Perfect as written.
My family was from Budapest… our beef goulash was a simple stew made by using finely cut garlic (4+ cloves), cut up 2 medium onions (about 1/2 inch pieces), then add the cubes of chuck on top of that (middle chuck including the bone) cover pot and place on low flame. Meat and onions provide enough moisture at this point. When meat loses bloody appearance (pale tan) a couple of table spoons of paprika plus salt and pepper may be added. Cook a few minutes then stir and add sufficient water to barely cover meat mixture. Raise flame to medium and cook. A teaspoon of caraway seeds will add to the flavor if desired. Onions will cook down to provide gravy. Add water when you feel necessary… basically the idea is to barely cover with water…taste, add more paprika for color and flavor. Goulash, as opposed to goulash soup, is not watery. Add cut up peeled potatoes. If you wish you may parboil peeled potatoes separately then drain and add to the goulash to finish cooking them.
The difference between paprikas and goulash is that in paprikas the onions and garlic are sauteed, paprika added & stirred in, preferably boiling water added, covered and then cooked until the onions are softened and most water evaporated. Then you would add the chicken pieces, or cut up veal (the same middle chuck cut of meat works very well. Cover with water. Some people add half a cut tomato and/or some cut green pepper to the paprikas. Salt & pepper to taste and add more sweet paprika if desired. I think the combination of paprika with garlic & onions provide the distinctive flavor of both these dishes. Especially lots of garlic..
For paprikas we would either use potatoes or prepare nockerli (galuska in Hungarian) which are the small egg & flour dumplings….drop from teaspoon and cook these in boiling water, drain and serve along with the paprikas.
In our family, no wine, beer or other added flavorings were used…it was a kosher dish without sour cream added nor on the side.
In NYC you can buy loose sweet paprika imported from Spain or Turkey on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Good stuff and very reasonable! Store it in the refrigerator.
8 years later I find my comment is still here… thank you..I do enjoy your site, Deb by the way for 20 years I have been buying my paprika & other spices loose )by the pound)on Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn at a little store named Oriental Pastry Shop. The store has coffee beans, tea, dates & a myriad of middle Eastern products
Just tried this today and it is an absolute hit! I used two cups of beer plus three water to make it a soup, and left out the caraway seeds because I’d run out of them.
It may not be purist Hungarian, but it’s delicious and will go on the regulars list!
Don’t you ever, ever put flour, starch or anything in this food, humiliation. CForget about beer too.Pasta is a dealbreaker too. Onions shpuld be shallow fried at the beginnig until hydrous.
If you need paprika, go to Atlantic Ave in Brooklyn. or probably in the Bay Ridge area….most Middle Eastern food stores have paprika…. and at many of these shops you can buy paprika by the pound/ounces…not pre-packed … it is fresher and better than what is sold in supermarkets. I store it in a jar in the refrigerator.
This is not goulash. Goulash is a soup.
Re paprika…. You can buy it loose…on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. I’ve been buying it for 20 years at a store named Oriental Pastry… along with other spices… coffee, dates , bulgur etc .
Also I loved Gourmet magazine in it’s day, but that’s not the way my Budapest-born Jewish mother made goulash. We differentiated between paprikas & goulash by browning onions, garlic & meat when making paprikas whereas goulash began by placing the onions above the meat in the pot, using a low flame & the onions sweat their moisture into the meat & you go on from there with paprika & garlic, kimmel & seasoning, adding the liquid, etc,