Hungarian Goulash

Goulash means different things to different people.  Depending on where you live (or where your grandparents are from) it could mean a hearty, thick beef stew with few to no vegetables (although dumplings are common) or it could be a richly flavored soup with meat, potatoes and root vegetables, both generally characterized by generous amounts of paprika.  Or, if you are from certain parts of the northeast or midwestern United States, it’s a mishmash casserole of ground meat, tomato sauce and macaroni or rice.

Growing up in Texas, we generally ate the latter kind, although it wasn’t necessarily called “goulash” – at least, not in our house.  My mother called it “stuff” and she was very good at making it.  As a result, I was also very good at making it when my kids were growing up, although I tended to call it “hurl it in a pan and pray.”  (Kudos to anyone who can tell me where that came from.)

At any rate, it’s the time of year when the leaner, quicker cooking cuts of meat in my freezer are dwindling, but that’s okay because it’s the season for roasts, stews, soups and casseroles; dishes both Beloved and I are very fond of.  So recently, when faced with a rolled chuck roast and no real idea of what to do with it, since I wasn’t in the mood for pot roast, I decided to find out exactly what was in a more traditional goulash.

Like I said, it really all depends on where you live and who you are, especially if you’re of central European descent, and even then what the goulash is composed of and how it’s prepared is really dependent on the cook – like chili or gumbo, everyone seems to have their own recipe.  So I decided to make something that was somewhere between the soup and the stew versions.

Mainly because I like stews and I like vegetables in them.

I was extremely pleased with how this came out; it was just delicious.  And, like most slow-cooked stews, it is even better the next day – it made a marvelous lunch a couple of days later – so don’t be afraid to make it ahead.  It reheats really well, and is so incredibly comforting.

Note:  This can be made Whole30 by substituting the Yukon gold potatoes with turnips or white-fleshed sweet potatoes.  I also used sweet Hungarian paprika; if you want a goulash with a bit of a kick, use a hot paprika.

Hungarian Goulash. Beef chuck is slowly stewed with onions, root vegetables and paprika for a delicious, comforting dish.

Click image to enlarge

Hungarian Goulash
Serves: 6 to 8
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons tallow or lard
  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 pounds beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1″ cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
  • 1 pounds small Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 pint tomato sauce
  • 2 cups beef stock, preferably homemade
Instructions
  1. Heat the fat in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Increase heat to high; add the beef and season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, uncovered, until the meat is browned, about 5 or 6 minutes. Stir in the paprika, marjoram, caraway, and garlic and continue cooking until fragrant, about a minute or two.
  3. Add carrots, parsnips, tomato sauce and beef stock. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium. Simmer, covered, until the beef is tender and the liquid has begun to reduce somewhat, about an hour.
  4. Add the potatoes and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 494 calories, 25.8g total fat, 110.7mg cholesterol, 222.4mg sodium, 1551.8mg potassium, 39.7g carbohydrates, 8.4g fiber, 9.4g sugar, 27.6g protein

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms

Sunday morning I got up in the mood to cook.

And cook I did.

I don’t know what possessed me to make stuffed mushrooms and bacon-wrapped asparagus spears to go with our over-easy pastured eggs and chocolate-laced coffee, other than the fact I had mushrooms and asparagus in the fridge (Beloved was bemused, as well – “My wife got up this morning and made appetizers for breakfast!”), but it was all really tasty, if a little odd.

I’m not a huge mushroom fan – they’re one of the few foods I have an “I can take it or leave it” attitude about – but I have to say that these were absolutely delicious.  We enjoyed them so much that I am going to make them for our annual employee holiday party this year.  It helps that they’re just drop-dead easy, too, and can be assembled ahead of time and baked later.  They also reheat beautifully.

Note:  The chorizo I use is really a chorizo-spiced ground pork; we get it from our friends at Whitefeather Meats.  A traditional Mexian chorizo is going to be pretty fatty and probably won’t hold together very well as a stuffing.  However, making it yourself is really quite easy – this recipe is a good one.

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms. These tasty morsels can be assembled ahead of time, and then baked just before serving.

Click image to enlarge

Chorizo-Stuffed Mushrooms
Serves: 8 to 10
Ingredients
  • 1 pound [url href=”http://honestcooking.com/authentic-homemade-mexican-chorizo/” target=”_blank”]homemade Mexican-style chorizo[/url]
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 pound large white button mushrooms
  • 3 tablespoons ghee, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Lightly grease the pan with olive oil.
  2. Gently but thoroughly clean the mushrooms with a damp towel. Remove and finely chop the stems; set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons of the ghee in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Cook the chopped mushrooms stems until they have given off all their liquid and it begins to evaporate.
  4. Add the remaining tablespoon of ghee to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions have softened and begun to turn golden, about 7 to10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool enough to handle.
  5. In a large bowl, gently mix the chorizo and mushroom/onion mixture until well combined. Stuff each mushroom cap with the chorizo mixture, mounding it attractively, until all of the sausage has been used.
  6. Place the stuffed mushrooms on the oiled pan and bake for 20 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the mushrooms have softened and the chorizo stuffing is cooked through.
  7. Serve warm.
  8. Nutrition (per serving): 250 calories, 21g total fat, 49.1mg cholesterol, 563.2mg sodium, 336mg potassium, 3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 1.2g sugar, 12.5g protein

Turkey with Tarragon in Cream Sauce

I think I mentioned recently that I’m all about the simple as far as food preparation goes these days.  Well, this recipe, which is has been around since the old “SAD” days, is quite simple, and is also quite good.  I just love the flavors of turkey and tarragon, and turkey breast is so lean that it really needs the richness of the cream sauce.

I also talked about how when we got our summer turkey this year, we broke it down into all it’s parts, vacuum sealed and then froze them.  Recently I’d taken one of the breasts out of the freezer with the vague idea that I’d butterfly it, pound it thin, spread it with a mixture of fruit and nuts, then roll it up and roast it.

Needless to say, that didn’t happen.  Instead, I merely sliced it and made this (since I had all of the ingredients on hand), and served it with roasted Japanese sweet potatoes and sautéed bok choy.  All in all, a wonderfully quick, easy and delicious dinner.

I realize not everyone has a skinned and boned turkey breast languishing in their freezer (and good for you if you do), so turkey cutlets are what is called for in the recipe; you can find them in the meat section of just about any grocery store.  Or, if you prefer, plain boneless, skinless chicken breasts will work just fine.

Note:  If you want to go dairy-free with this, omit the butter and sub the half & half and cream cheese with half a cup of coconut milk.  I think that would be quite tasty, actually.

Turkey with Tarragon in Cream Sauce.  Tarragon and a simple sauce truly elevates this quick and easy saute of turkey cutlets for a great weeknight meal.

Click the image to enlarge

Turkey with Tarragon in Cream Sauce
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound turkey cutlets
  • 1 tablespoons lard
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup fresh tarragon
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup half and half
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, softened
Instructions
  1. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with the tarragon.
  2. Sauté the onion until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium high and add the cutlets to the pan, frying until brown and done through, about 3 minutes on each side. Remove to a platter and keep warm.
  3. Add chicken stock to the skillet and bring to boil. Continue cooking until the stock is reduced by half; reduce the heat to low, then add the half and half and cream cheese, stirring until cheese is melted. Return the turkey to the pan and heat through.
  4. Serve immediately.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 293 calories, 17.1g total fat, 88mg cholesterol, 1296.4mg sodium, 513.1mg potassium, 11.3g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 6.3g sugar, 23g protein

Lamb Sausage

Here’s something for my non-pork eating readers.

This recipe is the result of an accident – I meant to take ground pork out of the freezer for some homemade sausage, and grabbed a package of ground lamb instead.

What can I say? They look a lot alike when raw.

At any rate, I decided to see how the lamb would do as breakfast sausage, and all I can say is I was not disappointed.  Lamb, especially ground lamb, has a pretty strong taste that carries bold flavors really well, so I spiced this up with some garlic, rosemary and roasted fennel seeds.  And since the lamb was a bit drier than ground pork, I added a little olive oil to the mix, as well.

I was really pleased with the results, and Beloved simply wolfed it down, he liked it so much.  It was a nice change from your standard pork or turkey sausage.

This mixture would work well as meatballs or as part of a nice Mediterranean meat sauce, too.

Lamb Sausage. Homemade sausage is so easy - why stick with pork and turkey?  Spice up some lamb with the bold flavors of rosemary and fennel.

Click the image to enlarge

Lamb Sausage
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound ground lamb
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, roasted and crushed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, gently mix all of the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
  2. Heat a griddle or large skillet over medium-high heat. Form the sausage into 8 patties of equal size, taking care not to overwork the mixture. Working in batches if necessary, cook the patties about 4 minutes per side or until the sausage is browned on the outside and just cooked through.
  3. Nutrition (per serving): 262 calories, 18.8g total fat, 76mg cholesterol, 653mg sodium, 315.6mg potassium, <1g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, <1g sugar, 21.3g protein

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers

I’m really beginning to wonder if one of the symptoms of Empty Nest Syndrome is a lack of interest in cooking, and a lack of interest in photographing the results when you do feel like cooking.

Because that seems to be my life ever since The Young One left for college.

Seriously – Beloved and I are living off of eggs, simply cooked meats and vegetables, fruits and ferments…lots and lots of ferments.  (Ferments = easy, nutritious and delicious.)  It suits our lives right now, and I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I’m rather enjoying it all.  No kids.  No pets.  Just me, Beloved, and episodes of Orange is the New Black and 24 on Netflix.  Life is good.

At any rate, I’m sure my interest in cooking and food photography will return eventually, but in the meantime I’m going to post twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.  And it will most likely be simple, easy dishes unless the mood strikes and I make something along the lines of the Apple Fritter recipe on a Sunday morning.

This is one of those simple recipes.  It is also incredibly delicious – Beloved said it was the best burger he’s eaten in a very long time, and I have to concur with him.  They are just marvelous.

The trick is not to overcook them; low and slow is the way to go.  Check the temperature of the burgers and don’t let it go over 145 F, then cover them and put them in a warm oven for 10 minutes.  The result is an incredibly juicy, flavorful burger.

I served this with Dilly Beans, Jalapenos en Escabeche (both of which are almost completely gone now) and roasted sweet potato wedges; it was a great dinner.  Anyone interested in a recipe for the wedges?  They were pretty darn good, too.

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers. Apple and cheddar cheese really pump up the flavor of these burgers, while bacon helps keep them moist and juicy.

Click the image to enlarge

Apple-Bacon-Cheddar Burgers
Serves: 8
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 4 ounces bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 large apple, peeled and grated
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Gently combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Form 8 patties from the mixture.
  2. Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium-low heat; cook the burgers until the internal temperature reaches 145 F.
  3. Place the burgers on a large plate or platter; cover with aluminum foil and place in a warm oven. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  4. Nutrition (per serving): 434 calories, 35.1g total fat, 106.1mg cholesterol, 621.8mg sodium, 395.7mg potassium, 3.9g carbohydrates, <1g fiber, 2.8g sugar, 24.4g protein