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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hungarian Goulash

Surprise, surprise: It's another stew!

I got a new cookbook, a compilation of the best soups and stews from Cuisine at Home, and suffered over which stew to try first. In the end, since Noyan loves beef stroganoff so much, I went with this Hungarian goulash recipe. I'm not exactly sure what I thought the correlation between the two dishes was; I guess I'm copping to my poor sense of geography. Hungary and Russia are separated by about three countries in case you're as geographically challenged as me. They both have beef and sour cream, so maybe that's my common denominator.

Beef Stroganoff
3 lb. boneless chuck roast, cut into 2-inch chunks,
seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cups diced onion
3 tbsp minced garlic
3 tbsp Hungarian sweet paprika
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt to taste

1. Dredge beef in flour, shaking off any excess; sear in oil in batches in a large pot over medium-high heat, adding more oil if necessary. Remove beef from pot; set aside.

2. Sauté onion, garlic, and paprika in the pot for 30 seconds, then deglaze the pot with broth, scraping to loosen any brown bits.
3. Stir in tomato paste and reserved beef; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer stew, covered, until meat is fork-tender, 1-1 1/2 hours.
4. Off heat, finish goulash with sour cream and vinegar, season with salt.

The Verdict: I expected a little more, but it was filling and very rich. I also think it's another one of those recipes that the leftovers taste better than the original serving, as the setting time allows flavors to marry.

So instead of the sweet paprika, I broke out my smoked paprika. I bought some a month or two back and have been looking forward to any opportunity to try it. Let me tell you, the smell it creates while cooking is phenomenal. It smells like dark, rich, smoked peppers. I was disappointed that more of that taste didn't translate into the dish, so I might try a little more the next time I cook this dish. I think I'm going to be doing some freezer cooking in the next few months and this recipe would be great for that purpose.

The suggested side dish for this recipe is buttered egg noodles with peas and dill. That's what I made and I agree that it's perfect. Amir, the two-year-old, ate the noodles with great gusto.

A caveat: Make sure to add the sour cream off the heat. You may even wish to let the stew cool a bit before adding it. The sour cream with curdle otherwise.

Amir and Noyan liked this recipe a lot; I liked it much better than my usual (absolutely unrelated) beef stroganoff recipe. And since I'm the cook, that means we can eat it again.

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