25 Recipes #2: Goulash

I’ve been cooking up a storm since we got home from Cleveland last Wednesday – I just haven’t been blogging about it. I made hummus and fresh pita bread for our friends’ New Year’s party – the latter was perfect, unlike earlier pita efforts. We were both somewhat worse for wear on Saturday, and the Barefoot Contessa’s fresh pea soup was just the thing for our troubled stomachs. On Sunday, I made the first recipe from my new Essential New York Times Cookbook: mushroom caps stuffed with sausage and duxelles – simple but incredibly flavorful, and destined to be on our table many times in the future. I also took on the second recipe from my 25 Recipes list: goulash.


I’m not sure how goulash got on our list exactly. I approached it with a bit of trepidation, as Shane grew up in a city whose cuisine is as influenced by Eastern Europeans as my hometown’s is by the Swedes.

I was concerned because there seems to be a great deal of disagreement about what constitutes authentic Hungarian Gulyás. Many recipes call for tomatoes, while others swear that goulash never contains tomatoes. Some recipes call for potatoes to thicken the stew. Others suggest serving the stew over dumplings or egg noodles. The goulash I remember from my childhood always involved ground beef and elbow macaroni, and is apparently known as American Chop Suey in some parts of the country..

Browning the beef

Fortunately for me, Shane doesn’t have any particular memory of a specific goulash, so I was safe to proceed. The one thing all goulash recipes seem to agree on is the paprika, which gives goulash its characteristic color and savory smoky flavor. The paprika differentiates goulash from more pedestrian (but no less delicious) beef stew. In this goulash, the paprika is cooked in bacon fat already used to brown your beef and saute onions and garlic.

Sauteeing onions and garlic

Add everything to the pot – the browned beef and bacon, plus stock, diced red peppers, tomato paste (oh, the heresy!), seasonings, and water (or beer) enough to get the right consistency. Let it all simmer for an hour or so – enough time for me to shred and then prepare some pasta – and you’ve got a warm and hearty dinner. I was going to add ‘flavorful’ to that list of adjectives, but I was honestly underwhelmed by this recipe. It was good but not remarkable, which is probably the case with most comfort foods.

Kitchen Assistant

Either way, Mina was happy to supervise, Shane was happy to eat it up, and I’ll be happy to make it again. Maybe we’ll try a more authentic recipe next time.

Goulash from Smitten Kitchen – 1/4 recipe with egg noodles and some bread was enough for three portions


0103 Chicken Goulash

This recipe came from an old issue of Food and Wine, long relegated to the recycling bin. I have yet to determine a good way to keep track of recipes that I’d like to try – in addition to the cabinet full of cookbooks, pages flagged with post-it notes, I have a file folder full of recipes torn out of magazines and cut out of newspapers – and let’s not talk about the number of bookmarks I drool over but never get around to making.  I’m glad this one finally made the cut.

The chicken thighs came from Sparrow Market, where the butcher separated thigh from leg and wrapped it all in paper for me.  Shane boned the chicken, while I diced the vegetables, repeatedly removing Mina from the counter.  Everything came together quickly – the chicken browned beautifully in my workhorse of a skillet, and by the time everything went into the oven, we were both starving.  We skipped the dumplings in favor of a warm loaf of the first all-local bread baked by Zingerman’s (so new that it’s not listed on their website).  A warm, filling, and delicious meal, which paired nicely with a complex, buttery, and fruity Chardonnay.

Chicken Goulash with Biscuit Dumplings from Food & Wine