My mother used to make what she liked to call goulash by whipping up some tomato-based meat sauce and throwing it on top of macaroni noodles. And being a kid growing up in the midwest, for all I knew at the time that’s exactly what it was. So, I grew up thinking that this bland little exercise in frugal cooking was ‘goulash’. Then I went to Budapest and ate like a king for, like, $3.65/day for about a week in the mid-90s and was subject to a crash course in what goulash really was all about and why paprika is perhaps the most under-appreciated spice in the rack. Hungarian goulash is not good for you. Chicken paprikash is not good for you, either. Much of the Hungarian diet will kill you quickly and efficiently. In all cases, however, you will die happy. The paramedics may find you slumped over your kitchen table, hands clutching the shirt covering your chest, but there will also be a smile on your face. Having planted this picture in your frontal lobe, let’s make some Hungarian goulash*, shall we?
1.5 lbs of steak tips or flank steak cut into ~1” hunks
1 sweet onion
4 cloves of garlic
½ c sweet red wine or marsala
1 ¾ c beef broth
¼ c paprika (No, I’m not shitting you)
1 c sour cream (again….not a typo)
Dump some flour into a bowl, then toss your meat (HA!) in the flour, coating it liberally. Liberally, I tell you! Heat up some olive oil in a dutch oven/cast-iron skillet, then dump your flour’d meat in and brown it over medium heat (medium is plenty, since these skillets conduct heat like something that conducts heat really well).
Remove the meat and set it aside. Cut up your onion and garlic and saute them in the olive oil/meat leavin’s in the skillet.
Add the wine or marsala and use it to deglaze the skillet. This is going to smell really good, so maybe just stand there sipping something for awhile, slowly scraping the bottom of the skillet, while soaking in the moment. After the moment has been adequately soaked, add your broth and the paprika and stir well, letting this come to a very low boil (still over medium heat) for ~5 minutes. Add the meat and allow the slow boil to work with the flour coating the meat to gradually thicken the sauce.
Let this gurgle over medium-low heat for ~15 minutes. Now, look at the sour cream and think about what you’re about to do. Meditate on it.
OK, now fold the sour cream into the sauce and lower the heat, allowing it all to simmer for ~10 minutes.
Use this time to boil the noodles. Spoon some of the heart-friendly goop over the noodles, grab a fork, take a deep breath, and proceed to give your taste buds an early Christmas gift.
* This is a modified version of a recipe that I found online a long time ago. Most of the stuff I cook come from recipes that I’ve modified for added awesomeness, so you can probably find something similar using your Google machine, but it won’t be nearly as good IMHO.
Sir @ February 19, 2010