Beef Goulash – Really
I recently posted an Ask A Chef recipe for Chicken Goulash that wasn’t really Goulash but a Paprikas Csirke. In the comments someone asked if Chef Ricco could share his recipe for a traditional Beef Goulash and he responded with the following history and recipe. And for those of you who asked for his recipe for Spaetzle, it is now posted.
“First the story of goulash. This was really a soup named after the people who cared for the Magyar oxen (gulyas) and dates back to the 9th century, before Hungarian when there were only nomadic tribes. Back then the meat was boiled for a very long time, and then sun dried for later use.
Traditionally, goulash is made in a special cauldron (bogracs). Different regions have different recipes, but they all agree on a few things, pork fat or lard, no flour, no wine, and no sour cream. Some serve it with boiled potatoes and some serve it with csipetke (chi-pet-ke), small quenelles of egg pasta, poached in stock.
When I first learned this recipe, it was taught to me by an old Hungarian named George Kish and he called it Gulyas.”
After he sent this recipe to me I had a few questions that I sent to him and he responded as follows. I hope these questions and answers help you as much as they did me.
Q. What if you don’t have or want to cook with lark or pork fat? Can you substitute butter and/or oil?
A. The classic way to make Beef Goulash is with pork fat or lard but of course you can use just about any oil you like for sautéing. Believe it or not, the best is Crisco. I don’t tell many people this because they just freak out but this is from the old man who taught me.
Q. What’s the difference between mild paprika and sweet paprika?
A. As far as the paprika, there are many different kinds. There is sweet, mild, hot and very hot. The colors range from fire engine red to burnt orange and everything in between. The color of the paprika cannot tell you how sweet or hot it is. The Capsicum grows different from climate to climate, the weather dictates the color or how spicy. But to get the best dried spices to have to deal with a spice shop that has a fast turn over so you can get the freshest. I don’t have that problem here in India.
Q. Do you prefer beef stock or chicken stock for this recipe?
A. Beef stock will be the best and of course you can use chicken or vegetable or even good old H2O, but beef stock for maximum flavor.