Goulash (Gulyas) is the most famous Hungarian dish in the world and one of the country's national dishes. This is a very traditional beef goulash recipe made with simple ingredients like meat, peppers and root vegetables elevated to perfection by the use of Hungary’s most famous spice: paprika. Goulash can be made with beef or pork but the traditional way of making it is with beef. Originally this was the signature dish of the herdsmen on the Hungarian Great Plain (puszta), the "Hungarian cowboys" who used to live a nomadic lifestyle and would cook it over the fire in a cauldron.
Making the dish also goes hand-in-hand with drinking Bull's Blood, Hungary’s most iconic red wine. There is something about getting smoky while standing around a huge kettle of goulash that’s slowly cooking over a wood fire while sharing a bottle with your best friends that makes you feel fulfilled and happy. Stories start flowing, and playful teasing and bantering follows. That’s what goulash is about: friends, laughter, drinks and flavorful food.
Hungarian paprika is the signature flavor in most famous Hungarian dishes. It is very different than let’s say Spanish paprika. Hungarian paprika is naturally dried under the summer sun, whereas its Spanish counterpart is smoked over a wood fire. As a result, Hungarian paprika is known for its rich and intense red peppery flavour and is essential to give this dish an authentic flavor. Jó étvágyat!
TRADITIONAL HUNGARIAN GOULASH (GULYASLEVES)
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 2.5 hours
- 1 tbsp paprika seed oil
- 1 tbsp goulash paste
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 ½ tsp ground caraway seeds
- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ½ Tbsp. Hungarian paprika (mainly sweet smoked and a little bit of hot)
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 2 lbs. beef shoulder, cut into ½ inch cubes (chuck and shank are also good)
- 5 cloves garlic, crushed and roughly chopped
- 2-3 tomatoes, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, de-seeded and cut into half rings
- ¾ lb. carrots (about 2-3 large carrots), peeled and cut into rounds
- ½ lb. parsley roots (about 2-3 parsley roots), peeled and cut into rounds (or parsnips)
- ½ lb. celeriac, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 1 lbs. potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 3-4 sprigs of fresh parsley leaves, tied together
- 4-5 cups hot water
- ½ tbs salt
- ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 100g csipetke - pinched pasta
- In a cast iron Dutch oven, heat the paprika seed oil, then add the onions and cook for 8 minutes. Stir often so they don’t burn. If they start browning, add a tablespoon of water.
- Stir in caraway seeds, black pepper and bay leaves, and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat, and sprinkle paprika all over the onions. Stir often! (Burnt paprika is bitter.)
- Return the Dutch oven to the fire. Add ½ cup beef broth and the goulash paste, then cook for 5 minutes.
- Add beef cubes and garlic. Stir well until each piece is coated with paprika gravy. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the beef cubes start browning.
- Mix in tomatoes, peppers and the remainder of the broth (1 ½ cup). The broth should cover the meat and vegetables by an inch or two. If it doesn’t, add hot water.
- Reduce the heat to low, cover the Dutch oven, and let it simmer for an hour and a half.
- Add the root vegetables (carrots, parsley, celeriac and potatoes) and the tied parsley leaves to the pot. Add 4-5 cups of hot water to cover by an inch or two.
- Season with salt, and bring the soup to a boil over high heat. When it starts boiling, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 15 minutes uncovered.
- Add the csipetke and boil for another 10-15 minutes. Taste and adjust saltiness.
- Serve goulash hot with fresh bread. You can sprinkle with chopped parsley.
- I usually add the salt at the end when cooking with beef, so that it stays tender rather than becoming chewy.
- Serve alongside a glass of Bolyki Winery's Bull's Blood 2016, a velvety red with a lively acidity and a tight tannic structure that perfectly complements the rich flavours of the goulash.