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.
Click image to enlarge
- 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
- Heat the fat in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the potatoes and cook, uncovered, until tender, about 20 minutes.
- 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