What is Goulash?
Hungarian goulash or gulyás is a hearty and satisfying soup or stew usually prepared with tender beef and onions, spiced with sweet paprika. It is one of the national dishes of Hungary and a symbol of the country. The traditional goulash exemplifies the way a few simple ingredients, when cooked properly, can create an incredible flavour. Many variations of Hungarian goulash exist, and every cook makes it just a bit differently by using different veggies, like potatoes, carrots, celery, peppers.
History of goulash
Goulash originates from the Hungarian gulyás, which initially meant 'herdsman'. Over time the dish became gulyáshús ('goulash meat') – that is to say, a meat dish prepared by herdsmen. In fact, the dish originates from the Magyar shepherds of the 9th century as a simple stew made with beef and onions. The first version involved sun-dried strips of beef carried in bags made of sheep's stomachs. Ottoman Turks introduced paprika to Hungary in the 15th century. Paprika has since become a defining element of Hungarian cuisine. The rest of Europe was lukewarm towards this red chilli pepper, but Hungary welcomed it wholeheartedly. It wasn't until the 1920s that a Hungarian botanist discovered a pepper plant that produced sweet fruits and grafted it onto other pepper plants that we now refer to as ‘sweet paprika’.
Total time: 1 hr 30 mins
3 tablespoons pork lard, or butter or bacon grease
1 1/2 pounds yellow onions chopped
1/4 cup Hungarian sweet paprika
1 1/2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 red bell peppers, seeded/membranes removed, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded/membranes removed, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 tomatoes, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 medium potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
5 cups beef broth
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed caraway seeds (optional)
In a Dutch oven or other heavy soup pot, melt the pork lard or butter/oil over medium-high heat and cook the onions until they begin to brown, 7-10 minutes.
Add the beef and cook for seven to ten minutes until it begins to brown. Add the bell peppers, tomatoes, and garlic and continue cooking for 6-8 minutes.
Take the pot off the heat and stir in the paprika, salt, pepper and caraway (if using).
Add the beef broth, bay leaf, return to the stove and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 40 minutes.
Add carrots and potatoes. Put the pot back on the stove, reduce the heat to medium, cover, and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the beef is tender. Salt to taste. Remove the bay leaf.