“Is the elk in my bowl still bleeding?” “No, that’s the paprika.”
Goulash is probably Hungary’s most famous dish. And to be clear here, I am talking about the paprika-laden stew goulash, not the American version of goulash involving pasta sauce and spaghetti (though that is also delicious). As paprika is the main star here, try to find some good quality paprika if you can. It’s best if you can find it in bulk, because you’re gonna use a ton of it. The amount of paprika I have listed here is merely a suggestion, and actually I felt like I could have used twice as much. So layer it on thick, I don’t think “too much” is even possible.
Aside from the paprika, an oft overlooked (but necessary) ingredient is the caraway. It may play second fiddle to the paprika, but really rounds out the flavors with its subtle hint of anisette. I couldn’t find my ground caraway because finding anything in my spice cabinet is akin to finding Waldo – you really only see it when you’re not looking for it. I did find whole caraway, so I referred to my turkish spice grinder that always seems fun to use in theory until I get tired of turning that little crank. Makes for pretty pictures though.
Goulash is kind of like a lot of national dishes – it’s sort of different at every house. You can use smoked meat, do no veggies, add veggies, etc etc. and then there is what to serve it with. The wide egg noodles are popular, but not necessary. When making goulash you do want to consider your starch: potato, noodles or csipetke, which is kind of like in between a noodle and a dumpling. You could do all or none when it comes to the starch. I chose to try out the csipetke, knowing that the starches from the flour would help thicken the stew. It’s not difficult – you just make a simple dough, flatten it into a patty, and pinch off pieces of it to throw in there. Very rustic, and I liked it better than a plain old potato.
- 1 tablespoon oil (or a little bacon fat rendered in the pan)
- 2lb venison stew meat
- 2lb ground venison
- 2 Large onions (diced)
- 1/3 cup hungarian (sweet) paprika
- 1 tablespoon ground caraway
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 6-8 cups water or broth
- 3 carrots (chopped into bite sized chunks)
- 2 romas (or a handful of grape tomatoes, chopped)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 egg
- 1 cup flour (more or less to create a stiff, not sticky, dough)
- pinch of salt
|Heat the oil in a large pot and cook onions with a pinch of salt until they just start to turn a little brown, about 10 minutes. Add the paprika, salt and pepper, garlic and caraway with a sprinkle of water to keep everything from burning and give it a good stir. Add the meat and cook until all the meat is browned and cooked through.
|Add enough water or broth to just cover the meat (add more if you prefer your goulash soupier, less if you prefer it stew-like). Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to simmer until the meat is nice and tender, about 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on how tough your meat is. When the meat is about done, add the carrots and tomatoes and cook until the carrots are tender. If using Csipetke, add to the soup about 5 minutes before serving. You can also serve on top of egg noodles.
|Beat the egg with salt and add the flour (roughly one cup) until you get a nice stiff dough. Flatten the dough into a thin patty. If the dough is sticky add more flour. Pinch small, bean-sized pieces from the dough and drop it in the soup, giving them about five minutes to cook through.