Cooking At Home: Grandma's German Goulash

With loads of Hungarian Paprika and a versatile topping that can be served over polenta, mashed potatoes, couscous or even rice Grandma's German Goulash is a hearty, flavorful comfort food that is surprisingly easy to make.  The ingredients are few and it doesn't take a professional to make it good every single time.  Serve it on a cold day or for your date (it will indeed impress them!), but I personally make this dish when I don't feel like cooking for a couple of days, it makes wonderful leftovers that can be eaten for a night or two, I love it all the more for it.

This recipe is from Esalen Cookbook, healthy and Organic Recipes from Big Sur by Charlie Cascio

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 lg yellow onions, cut in 1/2-inch half moons
2 lg red bell peppers, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 lg green bell peppers, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 1/3 tbsp sea salt [or less if you like]
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper [or more if you like]
3/4 cup water

Preheat a heavy-bottomed 6-quart saucepan or cast-iron Dutch oven, add the oil and meat.  Brown meat on all sides over high heat.

Add onions and lower heat to medium.  Saute together.  Cook the meat and onions together for about 1/2 hour or until the onions have fully carmelized.

Add the rest of the ingredients including the water and raise the heat to bring the goulash to a boil.  Once it comes to a boil lower the heat and simmer covered for 1 1/2 hours. You can add 1tsp of chopped fresh rosemary just before serving.

I do not have a 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven so I used a 4-quart Dutch oven instead and when I tried to brown the meat and carmelize the onions they just steamed together.  For proper browning and carmelization of the onions you'll need a 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven or larger for space enough to lay out the meat in one layer (the proper way to brown meat).  If the space is any smaller the meat does not brown and the onions do not carmelize, instead they steam together since the juices of the onions and meat cannot evaporate.  However, my Grandma's German Goulash still came out wonderfully delicious so I wouldn't worry about it too much if you don't have a saucepan or Dutch oven 6-quart or larger.  I also use 1/2 tbsp less of salt since I try to watch my salt in-take and add a little more ground black pepper (because I love it so!).  I've never added the rosemary at the end right before serving (although I'm sure it'll make the dish even more wonderful, call me lazy).  Even with all these minute changes the dish still comes out wonderfully flavorful and delicious- this is what I mean when I say it doesn't take a professional to make this.

Keep in mind:  Once you have cooked your meat and onions and are ready to add in the other ingredients (bell peppers, spices, tomato paste, salt, pepper, bay leaf and water), you'll notice that once you pour the 3/4 cup of water into the pot that you will find that the water only reaches about 1/2 way up or so on the ingredients, you'll begin to think that there isn't enough liquid to make a Goulash sauce, but not to worry, as the mixture cooks on simmer for 1 1/2 hours the liquid level will rise as all the vegetables begin to cook down.  And remember to mix all the ingredients together once you've added the second batch of ingredients into the meat and onion mixture.

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