What chance do we have if the good people do nothing?
Some might ask, “How could this have happened?” Others in tears must turn away unable to look upon this sacrilege. Today we put the lid on the saucepan for the last time. We push aside heretical ground meat, the canned tomato sauce, and the (I’m having trouble typing it) cheddar cheese in favor of choice chuck steak, finely chopped onion and garlic and that wondrous holy trinity of spices, salt, pepper and paprika for the greatest Hungarian beef goulash we all deserve.
3 tablespoons oil
2 pounds boneless chuck steak, trimmed of all fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 large-size onions, finely chopped (at least)
1 clove or teaspoon garlic minced
Hot Hungarian paprika
3-quart heavy saucepan or Dutch oven
Here’s how this goes. Oil goes down in the pan with the garlic. Let that sweat covered for five minutes on medium-low. Get the meat out and trim any pieces that come too big. (I buy usually pre-cubed stew meat because it saves time) Salt, pepper, and paprika goes down on the meat then you set that aside. Back in the saucepan I put the onions in. You want to have those cut into nice uniform pieces before you start (quick tip: pre-chopped frozen onions in bags are a great way to shorten cooking time when in a pinch. Keep a few bags in the freezer when goulash-ing on a whim.) Cover the onions and sweat those as well. The longer the onions sweat the better, keep the heat low so they don’t burn. In prime situations, I’d like to sweat them at least a half hour.
Next comes kosher salt, black pepper and paprika to the pan. I like to get the onions nice and red and that usually means you have enough paprika but you still need another spoonful or two. (quick tip: if you like things spice a little bit of hot paprika or cayenne adds a kick to this. Use sparingly as you don’t want to smoke your dinner guests out) Let the onions with spices sweat another five minutes before you drop in the meat in.
Here’s where some personal preference comes in. You want to add a little water to the pan, but not too much. You don’t want your goulash swimming, it’s not a goulash-soup after all (that’s another recipe) Some use a little red wine at this stage. Cover and cook on low heat for around 2 hours. Low and slow is the key as you want the meat to be tender on the table. You also want the meat to have plenty of time to take on the taste of the paprika, the onions, garlic, and vice versa.
Here’s where you want to taste the broth, the meat and add salt to taste. You never want a goulash too bland or too salty.
Serve over elbow noodles, or homemade dumplings and with a nice crusty bread.
And there you have it kids. Goulash, the right way. (Well Michael’s way anyway)