Dish of the Week: Hungarian Goulash

Warm up with this hearty Hungarian classic.EXPAND
Warm up with this hearty Hungarian classic.
Photo by Elsie Hui

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’ll be warming up with a cold-weather favorite: Goulash.

Goulash is a type of Hungarian soup or stew made with a combination of meat, vegetables, and spices, including paprika. Derived from the Hungarian word gulyás, meaning “herdsman,” the dish dates back to the 9th century, when Hungarian shepherds would store cooked and dried meat in bags produced from sheep’s stomachs and use water to turn it into a meal.

Variations on cattlemen stew made with beef, veal, pork and lamb are common all across the former Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Often onions, garlic, peppers, carrots, paprika and caraway seed are added, with tomato being a modern day addition. Potatoes are can be either diced and cooked in the stew to thicken it or served on the side mashed in lieu of dumplings, polenta, spätzle, or bread.

This recipe, from Gourmet, incorporates bacon and red wine vinegar,  giving the traditional stew a punch of flavor.  


Ingredients yields 16 cups
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
5 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 red bell peppers, chopped fine
4 large russet (baking) potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
Optional: sour cream for serving

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, cook bacon over moderate heat, stirring, until crisp and transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl. In fat remaining, 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, 45 minutes.

Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Add potatoes to soup and simmer, covered, occasionally until tender, about 30 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. Serve with sour cream if desired.

*Soup may be made three days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before chilling, covered. Thin reheated soup with water if desired.

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