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Hungarian Gulasch?

DH and I were in Germany and Austria last winter, and fell in love with one of the local specialties- Hungarian Gulasch. Nothing whatsoever like American goulash (tomatoes, ground beef, elbow mac)- it was smooth, spicy, heady, rich... mmm... I have some Hungarian Sweet Paprika, and I'm ready to try my hand at it- any words of wisdom or recipes?

Also, wouldn't mind recipes or techniques for the bread dumplings (semmelknodel?) that were often served with the gulasch to soak up the sauce.


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  1. This is one of those recipes I make so often that I no longer measure, but it's something like:
    1 Tbsp. caraway
    2 slices bacon
    3 Tbsp. olive oil
    1 1/2 lbs. veal stew or beef
    2 sweet onions, sliced
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 Tbsp. tomato paste
    2 Tbsp. Sweet Paprika
    1 Tbsp. Hot Paprika
    1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
    salt and pepper
    beef stock
    1 sm. green pepper, chopped
    1 sm. red pepper, chopped
    8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
    1 tsp. thyme
    1 tsp. marjoram
    1 tsp. red wine vinegar
    2 Tbsp. chopped dill
    sour cream

    1. Dry roast caraway seeds in pan until fragrant. Remove from heat and grind.
    2. Cut bacon into batons and fry in olive oil to render out lard, remove flesh and set aside for another use. Brown veal in small batches in bacon fat and olive oil. Reserve in a bowl and set aside.
    3. Over medium heat, sauté garlic and onions until translucent. Season with half the ground caraway.
    4. Add tomato paste and caramelize. Season with paprika, cayenne, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper.
    5. Add reserved veal with any accumulated juices, cover with beef stock and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes.
    6. Add red wine vinegar and any remaining ground caraway to taste. Add vegetables and cook till crisp-tender.
    7. Garnish individual bowls with sour cream and chopped dill.

    14 Replies
    1. re: JungMann

      Now why is it that I react so negatively against the tomato paste - clearly an americanism, but not the potatoes... also an american import....hummm.

      1. re: KaimukiMan

        The tomato paste came from a recipe I had in German for Wienergulasch, as well as Wolfgang Puck's recipe. The Austrians, it seems, have a myriad way of making goulash; the only unifying theme seems to be onions, paprika, meat and water. The sour cream is my own addition. I could eat sour cream on most anything.

        Gotvin - this is a stew, though by upping the seasonings and liquid, you could make it into a reasonably delicious soup.

        1. re: JungMann

          Wonderful! I have been looking for the stew version, not the one that is served over egg noodles, etc. Also, a family friend is German (I don't like her recipe) and she serves sour cream on hers. I think it is served differently by region. She is from Northern Germany.

          1. re: gotvin

            There are regional differences. Szegedinergulasch uses sauerkraut, for instance. I've seen a few Hungarian recipes that use cumin, which I sometimes use. I don't know how I feel about a Northern German recipe, but I think you would certainly enjoy the Wolfgang Puck recipe posted below.

            Sour cream is my own preference. It's what I like about paprikash, so I just put it on my goulash as well.

            1. re: gotvin

              Many Germans simply stir in 1/2 cup cream at the end of the cooking time. It adds a richness that finishes the goulasch beautifully.

          2. re: KaimukiMan

            My eyes must have broken, that recipe looks wonderful to my hungry eyes.

          3. re: JungMann

            JungMann - is this for Goulash Zuppe or the Hungarian Goulash? I ask b/c I prefer and LOVE the soup!

            1. re: JungMann

              Just found your gulasch recipe through a search, JungMann.

              Tempted to make a pork goulash using your recipe as a guide, instead of the pork porkolt, tonight.

              1. re: JungMann

                I know I don't have to ask this but I will anyway.
                Will it be awful not to use the red bells?
                This week when our DD made the beef dips,
                she sauteed onions garlic shrooms red and green bells.
                She was tossing out so many parts of each color bell that I'd nab 'em
                instead of letting her toss them. I discovered I really am not fond of red bells while I love green bells. To my mouth the red ones are a tad bit bitter while the green ones are sweet.

                1. re: iL Divo

                  I feel the exact opposite way about peppers. The red ones have had time to ripen and develop their sugars and complex flavors while the immature greens are more astringent, too much of which can go a long way. That said, use whatever is sweeter to your palate and you'll end up with a great goulash either way.

                  1. re: iL Divo

                    Man, for me it's just the opposite. The green ones are just not ripe, and to be their flavor is unpleasant whether raw or cooked. The red ones are heaven.

                    Having said that, I never saw either on used in a gulyas (soup) in Hungary. After all, paprika is nothing but ground dried red peppers.

                    1. re: kleine mocha

                      between you and jungman I feel like i ought to go buy a red one and just take a bite.
                      maybe I explained it wrong but the red ones, taste after taste, not good to me at all.
                      although I like the colors of all the peppers, they do taste different to me.
                      maybe my mouth is off, that's entirely possible.
                      although I like the yellow and orange ones just fine, hum, it's the red ones that are pukish to me.........

                    2. re: iL Divo

                      A world famous chef that everyone would recognize once told me that if you don't have or don't like red bells, just add 1 Teaspoon of sugar to the recipe. The red bells are really an integral part of this particular recipe, though, and they provide a complex mix of sugars that you can't usually get with just the one teaspoon of sugar. Green bells have a bite that red bells do not. Just a tip here: When bells are on sale in the Summer, I always buy a lot of them for use in my Winter stews and soups. Just halve, remove the seeds and freeze in ziploc bags.

                      1. re: RedRain

                        as I've stated on here somewhere before, I did a ragu with yard tomatoes and bells that had turned red as I hadn't caught them and picked them while they were still green. all that went into this simple sauce were typical of tomato sauce but since having the bells and not all that many toms, I used them thinking, although I know I don't enjoy red bells maybe everything else would counteract their off putting flavor to me and I'd not notice. I also know that if it was a simply awful [to me anyway] sauce, I'd pitch it, it was very good, didn't notice that off putting flavor of the red bells and disappeared in one nights pasta meal.

                        I'll no longer apologize for not liking red bell peppers. we all have our own flavor taste buds and mine simply don't like red bell peppers, tried them too many times in too many ways [other than what's above in this post] and don't like them. I keep jarred versions in the pantry for when DD is here and wants a roasted red bell pepper soup, but again, she loves 'em, me, nope

                  2. Here is a link to a recipe for hungarian goulash, gulyasleves, as well as a link to an index of authentic hungarian dishes.
                    I, myself, have not used the goulash recipe, but the apfel kuchen recipe turns out a great product.

                    1. This is one dish I wish I had the chance to ask my Burgenlander g-gmother about...

                      Having seen it on FTV and tried it myself, I vote for the Wolfgang Puck variety:

                      Of course, you must have spaetzle with the goulash:

                      I've noticed that George Lang's recipes rarely include sour cream with beef, perhaps this is an Americanism.

                      Don't be shy with the 'spicy' paprika - we're not talking Mexican chiles here; anyway it calms down under the long cooking.

                      Elbow mac and ground beef in goulash, yuck - permission to shoot the cook GRANTED.

                      I encourage you to make your own beef and chicken stock. Since I received a pressure cooker as a gift, this is quick and easy. There is NEVER such a thing as too much homemade beef gravy!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: DiveFan

                        This is pure speculation on my part: George Lang is (was?) Jewish, was raised Orthodox and in kosher cooking you would not mix meat with milk (beef with sour cream).

                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                          George Lang has no problem mixing meat with dairy...plenty of his recipes do so.

                      2. Do a search in the archives with the various spellings and you'll have some good reading. I think goulash is the most wonderful thing there is.

                        1. This is the recipe I have always used.....it came from Ivana Trump, who IS Hungarian, on a TV interview. It is one of those recipes (like most stews) where any leftovers taste even better the next day!

                          Ivana Trump's Goulash:
                          2 pounds beef shank or chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
                          2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
                          3 teaspoons sweet Hungarian paprika
                          4 tablespoons unsalted butter or lard (I use bacon drippings when I have it on hand)
                          2 tablespoons vegetable oil
                          2 medium yellow onions, minced
                          1 clove garlic, crushed
                          pinch dried marjoram
                          1 small green bell pepper, steamed, seeded and minced
                          1 medium tomato, peeled, seeded, minced
                          1 pound uncooked egg noodles -- Spaetzle can be a delicious substitute
                          Spaetzle (Egg Noodles)

                          **I also add:
                          1 medium carrot -- cut up
                          2 stalks celery -- diced
                          sautèed (in butter) mushrooms

                          Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

                          Lightly dust beef with flour and paprika. Set a 3- or 4-quart Dutch oven or flameproof casserole over high heat and melt half the butter with the oil. Add beef and saute' until browned, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to moderately high and add the onions and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add water to cover (about 2 cups) and the marjoram and salt to taste. Place casserole in oven and cook uncovered until beef is very tender, 1 to 11/2 hours, stirring frequently. Add more water if needed to prevent scorching.

                          Thirty minutes before goulash is done, add green pepper and tomato.

                          Just before serving, cook noodles in large pot of boiling salted water, according to package directions. Drain and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons butter.

                          Season to taste with additional salt. Serve at once with the hot, buttered noodles.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Lisbet

                            Lisbet, you are close. Ivana was born in Czecheslovakia and was on their Olympic ski team in 1968.

                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                              Thank you, Diane.....didn't know that! I have always admired the lady and jumped to the conclusion from her accent. Anyway....extremely good goulash!!!

                            2. re: Lisbet

                              - I haven't ever seen anyone putting flour in goulasch, though we cook gulasch quite often. If it's not thick enough you can put a little tomato paste in it or cook the potatoes more.
                              - I don't think that Ivana Trump is Hungarian. At least her name is not Hungarian and she was born in Checkoslovakia.

                              Except these things, your recpie looks very good.

                            3. Update: it finally got cold enough to try out these great tips for goulash, and here's the report:

                              - I used the Wolfgang Puck recipe for the meat dish, because I had all the ingredients, and I was looking for a smooth gravy-ish version like the ones I liked best in Austria. The only change was cider vinegar rather than balsamic. It was lovely- spicy and rich, just right for the season, and a nice smooth thick sauce for the dumplings.

                              - I made bread dumplings from a different CH post herehttp://www.chowhound.com/topics/338080 and they were really truly great. It was my first try at any kind of boiled dumpling, and it looked so horrible to boil big doughy bread balls... but Dh and I agreed that we'll definitely make them part of the rotation. I did use a whole wheat sourdough bread, instead of white.

                              Thanks for all the suggestions- I'm sure I'll incorporate more changes as I try again!

                              1. There are a few variations of Gulyás (goulash) here in Hungary.
                                Lets start with the basics (sorry if my English is not perfect):
                                The word Gulyás (goulash) means the man who takes care of the cattle. Their job was similar to a cowboys job (gulya is the hungarian for the cattle). They lived a half-nomad life in the plains of Hungary in the 1800s.
                                So the meat is usually beef. The best gulyás is made on a campfire in a cauldron.
                                You have to cut some fat smoked bacon (that type that don't have flesh) into little pieces and put it in first. Don't put oil in it, the bacon has enough fat, so a few minutes later you can put the sliced onions in. Cook the onions, but don't let them fry. Put some paprika powder (sweet and hot mix them to your taste) to the onions and bacon. You can fry it a bit, but be careful. Now you can add the meat and salt (you can add red wine too). You can also add pepper, garlic, smashed or a whole tomato if you like and a whole paprika. Stir it and let it give it's juice out. If you want to cook beans-gulash then you have to add the beans and the meat at the same time. Don't forget to put the beans in water a day before cooking. Now add some water but not too much just the amount to cover up the meat. Let it cook then you can add potatoes and some caraway seeds if you like.
                                Important: Put a few carrots, turnips and parsley in it. You can put little noodles in it.
                                In other countries (for example in the USA) people call very different things gulash, but this is about the original thing. It is a dense soup that we usually eat with bread.
                                It's popular here on festivals because it's a food that easy to cook in large amount (in a goulasch-cannon).
                                There are quite a lot variations but one thing is common: originally it was a food of the nomad people.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Neonknight6

                                  Yes! Turnips.

                                  Never had the beans version; that sounds delicious (a little heavy perhaps for this time of year).

                                  I make a version with veal but without the bacon fat for when I want to serve it at room temperature. I usually up the ratio of tomatoes, and then serve it with a dollop of sour cream. If I go all-out and puree the stuff, it gets served at room temperature with sherry *and* sour cream in it.

                                  1. re: Neonknight6

                                    "köszönöm" for pointing out that real Hungarian Goulash is a soup.
                                    Anyone looking to cook the real think would do well to follow Neonknight6's outiline.

                                    And definitely, as someone else pointed out, whatever you do don't thicken it with flour.

                                    Well made authentic Goulash is a hearty and satisfying thing.
                                    Komfort élelmiszer emlékek nagymama!

                                    1. re: The Professor

                                      The stew is a pörkölt; gulyas is the soup. Someone pointed out on the pörkölt thread the addition of marjoram and caraway. The woman in Budapest who shared some of her recipes with me used marjoram a lot; I think the caraway might be more of a German influence.

                                      A cheap dish you can order in an Austrian Gasthaus or Beisl is "Wurst mit Saft," which is a couple of hot dogs with the liquid from a "gulash" (not necessarily authentic Hungarian but an Austrian version). Another is Knödel mit Ei, slices of a Semmelknödel fried up with an egg or two.

                                    2. re: Neonknight6

                                      My Hungarian Jewish grandmother (from Miskolc) would agree with your recipe, except for the bacon (prohibited in kosher cooking). We never put sour cream or dairy in the goulash either, but its very customary here in the US. She had many variations on the recipe, but my favorite is with rice, it really absorbed the flavor of the goulash and was very tasty.

                                      Curious - I buy Szeged paprika here in the US, is that what you use in Hungary as well or another brand?

                                    3. My Bavarian mother's (hence mine) version of goulash is to sear large cubes of boneless chuck in bacon fat or oil in a Dutch oven, then add cloves, bay leaf, and a LOT of sliced onion, cover and cook on low heat for a few hours till it's fork-tender, stirring occasionally. I think she didn't add S&P till the end. The onions exude a lot of juice but it reduces into an intense sauce. This goes over noodles or mashed potato. I have an uncoated cast iron Dutch oven that is almost never used for anything else, so that after 40 years, it is permeated with bay and clove and actually smells like this goulash.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: greygarious

                                        That's similar to how I learned it from my german grandma, minus the onions. It's really just browned beef, simmered with aromat, bay leaf and thickened with some flour later.
                                        Goes with noodles or mashed potatoes, spaetzle or potato pancakes.

                                        1. re: greygarious

                                          well... what you describe sounds very delicious, but it is certainly not Hungarian goulash.

                                          1. re: The Professor

                                            Thanks. This is pretty much it. Eaten with pasta, homemade spaetzle, potatoes, potato pancakes, sauerkraut, mashed potatoes...etc.

                                            Comfort food... so good!

                                        2. I'll add my two cents in praise of this recipe by Adam Ried for the Boston Globe. Lots of really deep flavors.


                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: bear

                                            Curious - is this the same Adam Ried from America's Test Kitchen?

                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                              Yes, it is. He writes in the Boston Globe Magazine sections most Sundays. Definitely worth a look each week.

                                              1. re: bear

                                                My husband is Hungarian and he always raves about his mother's goulash. His nephew came to visit a year or so ago and made chicken paprikash. I, being from boring English/Scot/French/Swedish stock, make my goulash from Jamie Oliver's book Jamie at Home.

                                                It's made with port shoulder, red onions, chillies, smoked paprika and regular paprika, ground caraway seeds, marjoram or oregano, a mixture of various peppers (red, green, yellow) and a small jar of roasted peppers, plum tomatoes, red wine vinegar and is served with rice and sour cream, with a sprinkling of lemon zest and chopped Italian parsley over the finished dish.

                                                I don't know if this is genuine or not, but it sure is fantastically delicious.

                                                1. re: oakjoan

                                                  That sounds fantastic. I'm guessing it's this recipe:


                                                  My son who is my once weekly cooking companion (my husband doesn't get near the stove too often) was just saying that he's craving a braised pork dish. This sounds like just the ticket, so thanks!

                                                  Years ago we had an Austrian friend who gave us his chicken paprikash recipe. It was a favorite in our family but I lost the recipe. We made a different recipe last year, and it was delicious but not quite as good as my memories of our old recipe. What amazing comfort foods both goulash and paprikash are. Tis the season!

                                            2. re: bear

                                              can't and won't do the beer addition, allergic, but if I can sub out the green bells for red, it's a go

                                            3. The goulash I remember from childhood is a soupy stew made from pork shoulder, served with saurerkraut and boiled potatoes. Somehow it all gets some of the delicious gravy over all of it.
                                              Now I need to go get this recipe and try it out. Love cold-weather cooking, it is so comforting, even if I am 200 lbs by March.

                                              1. In both Prague and Heidelberg it was served to us with sour cream, sauerkraut and bread dumplings. The Hungarian chef at the restaurant in Heidelberg said "Its home cooking, you make it how you like it."

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                  I'd love that chef! He is so right!

                                                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                    >>"Its home cooking, you make it how you like it."<<

                                                    That really does sum it all up brilliantly.
                                                    The _right_ way to make _any_ dish is to make it so it pleases _your own_ palate.

                                                    Of course, my grandmother's was the best. ;-)

                                                  2. my girlfriend sent me a recipe [not sure where it came from] but she'd made it and said it was very good also VERY hot. there were no less than 4 types of chili's in there and due to that, I'll not post the recipe. I am not a lover of things that take my face off, I prefer flavor to heat.

                                                    1. I have seen recipes that use lecso base (onion sauteed in pig fat, tomato and cubes cooked down) as the base or first step. I then saw a show on cooking channel (I think) where an old Hungarian woman made a base that took a long time -- maybe it was a lecso variant. I don't have those cookbooks anymore, I don't think. Does anyone have a recipe like that?