Thursday, December 25, 2014

Goulash: Western Take on an Eastern Specialty

Traditional goulash is more of a soup than a stew.  We had an excellent example of it this summer made by our friend Maria over an open fire. Rather than try to copy that recipe, we decided to make something a little more in line with the Western versions that have evolved over the years. Here is the recipe we developed.  Frying the paprika dredged meat imparts it with the colour of beef roasted over an open fire.  Braising it slowly in the oven breaks down the connective tissue in the meat from the shank and allows you to savour it's phenomenal taste without the toughness. Overall the recipe has a rich and hearty balance of flavours that combines the sweetness of the tomatoes and smoked paprika with the mild spiciness of the czabi and the sourness of the lemon juice.  

Makes 16-18 servings

In a large bowl combine:
6 tablespoons of flour
6 tablespoons of smoked paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 lbs of cubed beef shank (meat only)
in the mixture.  Melt:
3 tablespoons of bacon grease
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat.  Brown the meat in the hot fat, adding extra if necessary.  Put aside the beef in a strainer.  Remove all but:
2 tbsps of fat
From the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and fry:
3 large onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
Until they begin to brown at the edges.  Add:
1/2 cup of tomato paste
and fry for another 5 minutes.  Transfer the meat, tomato paste, and onions to a large dutch oven  and add:
1 litre of San Marzano tomato sauce
1 litre of diced tomatoes
2 cups of beef stock
2 medium spicy Hungarian czabi sausagues, chopped
6 bay leaves
1 tsp caraway seeds
And bring to a simmer over high heat.  Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 275 degrees.  When the mixture is simmering transfer it to the oven and cook covered for 3 hours, checking occasionally to stir and make sure it is still simmering. A half an hour before the end add:
2 large red peppers, chopped
Remove from the oven and skim any fat from the top. Add:
Juice of 1 lemon
and add:
Salt, pepper, and paprika to taste. 
Serve with a:
Dollop of sour cream.

The lemon juice is a critical element of the balance of the recipe, so don't omit it because it seems odd.  Similarly, the czabi imparts a mild spiciness that infuses the dish without overpowering it.  Finally while frying in a mixture of pork and beef fat may not make this health food, it creates a flavour that is truly divine.  Egészségére!

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