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Nov 2, 2012 04:20 AM

"American" goulash -- what's your family's version?

iL Divo and I were having fun in another thread talking about authentic Hungarian goulash and porkolt versus the "goulash" our parents made in the U.S. and Canada when we were young. Link to that original thread:

So now I'd love to know: what was "goulash" in your home growing up? Was it a soup or a stew-like dish? Did it involve ground beef? Sour cream? Tomato soup? Were noodles an integral part of the dish?

My mother made what she called "goulash" by taking a can of goulash (yes, they sold goulash in a can in the 70s), adding vegetables and soy sauce, some ketchup and lord knows what else, and serving it over rice. I can still remember it to this day. It tasted and looked nothing like the rich, hearty Hungarian beef stew that I've come to know as porkolt, but it...well, it wasn't awful.

I was curious when and where the first goulash recipe appeared in North America and wikipedia pointed me to this 1914 cookbook:

FWIW, here is the recipe for an authentic Hungarian beef stew that ChristinaMason pointed me towards a couple of years ago and I haven't needed another recipe since (you should watch the video that the blog links to, it's kinda awesome):

But hey, that's not the stuff I want to talk about! What kind of goulash recipes did you grow up with? Do you still make the dish the way your parents did?

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  1. My aunts version is 1 can of cream corn, 1 can of corn, 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup, 1 lb of ground beef, sauteed onions and a bag of egg noodles. Gotta say, it's strangely delicious topped with a generous amount of Louisiana hot sauce ;)

    I have edited to add that some times she adds an additional can of cream corn if she wants more moisture.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tiffeecanoe

      For some reason I kind of want to try that. We are not soup as ingredient folk but I love a one dish meal. Wonder if I could retool that making my own sauce?

      1. re: melpy

        I'm not a condensed soup person either - except the occasional tomato soup - in the past I've made this with higher end, more natural condensed soups and I have to say, it's just not as good - haha! Also, my aunt swears it must be Campbells or it's just not the same.

    2. I have to add. My Hungarian step father - he came to the states at 17 - his mother makes a goulash that invovles sliced hot dogs! I really should find out more about this recipe, but it always cracked me up that their version of goulash sounds so hilariously American!

      2 Replies
      1. re: tiffeecanoe

        I know it's 14+ months since you posted this, but someone revived the thread and I'm reading from the top....
        My current MIL was married to a Hungarian-American for 25 years (not wife's father) and my Ex-MIL was from Germany with a MIL living in the house who was from Budapest.
        Both of these MILs made hot dog goulash..The main ingredient besides the sliced up hotdogs was ketchup which cooked down slowly until a sticky thin sauce. Also in the pot were thinly sliced white all purpose potatoes that melted away during the long slow simmering process. EX-MIL often added caraway seeds (because she was German), current MIL is repulsed by the idea, so I eat it with a slice of seeded rye bread.

        I hate ketchup, but loved either oine of their hit dog goulash

        1. re: bagelman01

          I see that this post is old also, but...

          That reminds me of some of the food I had in Norway 30 years ago. Their idea of spaghetti was pasta with ketchup. And hot dogs (which they called sausage - "pulse" in Norwegian) were on the table 4 nights a week. Although I must say that the quality of their hot dogs was much better than ours.

          Things are different over there these days. But i was amazed by some things. Just depends on how many things are imported or aren't, I guess.

      2. My mom made this- and we all loved it! She used ground beef, onions, peppers and stewed tomatoes. Cook it all, and add it to cooked shells. Still love it! Not sure why we called it goulash- but thats what we called it! We live in the Boston area- I know other areas of the country have a sililar dish they call johnny marzetti.

        6 Replies
        1. re: macca

          Sounds like what we know as American Chop Suey in western MA and that what Johnny Marzetti is, too?

          1. re: KSlink

            My mom's family from CT also made American Chop suey. I don't know what it is exactly but it sounds similar.

          2. re: macca

            My best friends mother made it with ground beef, onions, peppers and probably canned tomatoes of some sort and......tons of sugar. It was so sweet it made your teeth ache. She served it with egg noodles.

            1. re: macca

              Yes! That's how my mom made it (w/ elbow macaroni) and we called it goulash also. Our school cafeteria made basically the same dish and called it Johnny Marzetti. Ha! Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

              1. re: macca

                That's exactly what my mom made except she used elbow mac. I grew up in the Detroit area. She called it, quite originally, "hamburger macaroni."

                1. re: HeyImBack

                  Too funny this thread popped up again. I was just talking about "goulash" with a friend the other day and she said her mom used elbow macaroni.

              2. By the way, TorontoJo, they still sell goulash/gulasch in a can in Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

                3 Replies
                1. re: prima

                  Oy. I would have liked to think that canned meat was a thing of the past. I wonder if anyone there adds soy sauce to it like my mom did! :)

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    The Swiss canned version actually looked pretty good.
                    I'd buy "Chunky -the soup that eats like a meal" Goulash, if they sold it! Well, I'd buy it at least once, to try it!

                    1. re: TorontoJo

                      I've actually had very good tinned meat stews from Central European countries.

                  2. We never had it at home, only at the school cafeteria. As I remember it, it was ground beef in sweet tomato sauce, with chunks of green bell pepper and lots of macaroni. A cheese slice was broiled into the top until the grease separated out and ran all over everything. It was highly unpopular with most of the kids, which was good for me because I got a lot of unwanted portions (I was a fat kid who would eat anything)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: RealMenJulienne

                      This school version sounds similar to what my mom made in the mid-1960's in southern California. Except she used egg noodles instead of macaroni. She didn't add cheese to it. I think the sweet red sauce had paprika in it in addition to tomato sauce.

                      Here's a recipe from the 1930's called Noodle Goulash (similar to what I remember):