In Europe we have something like a spiced meat stew that has gained popularity with time all over the world. As the title suggests, I am speaking of the brown paprika loaded Goulash. Actually the dish is typically Hungarian, but since once upon a time Hungary and Austria used to be one without borders, it is fair to say that Goulash has become another Austrian favorite and so a “national dish”. Yet, we shouldn’t forget that it was first the common folk of Hungary, the shepherds and farmers, who had come up with the dish much before anybody else. However at that time, the so called gulyás in Hungary, looked pretty much different, in fact the main ingredient that defines nowadays goulash, didn’t contain any Paprika powder, so to say it was quite plain and was cooked with meat and onions over an open fire. The Paprika powder was imported to Europe and was so used for the first time in the Goulash only after the discovery of the Terra Nova, better known as the Americans.
Gulasch (the Austrian name and spelling) was used by the Austrian nobility to support the idea of a united Austrian-Hungarian Empire, yet they were not the ones who indulged it at the time. For a very long period it was the people’s food and in my opinion the reason for that was, that mostly rest meats were used to make this stew. I remember a teacher of mine mentioning once that Goulash was traditionally made with rest meats, meaning the least qualitative meats. By the way the original, traditional Goulash used to be prepared with Beef or even veal, but younger meat wasn’t always favored, since this stew was and is meant to be cooked over a period of time to gain flavor and aroma, and it makes more sense in this case to use tougher meats. Over time, as one can imagine, the goulash was prepared with pork, horse and even mutton meat and back then, the dish finally even reached the German lands and before it was popular in Germany, it was already everybody’s favorite in the Slavic countries such as Croatia, Slovenia and so on.
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So as you can see, Goulash has lots of History at the core of Europe and unsurprisingly the world has embraced it with open hands in their homes. While the recipe traveled over borders and cultures, it began to mutate and a so called goulash evolution occurred. This Beef Goulash recipe underneath is just the start of a series of different European, but especially Austrian Goulash, that I am intending to introduce you to over time. There are so many varieties and styles, that those certainly deserve each an own article devoted to their style, ingredients and cooking technique. Of course I haven’t forgotten the Vegetarian readers amongst us, so brace yourself for a traditional Veg version as well, which will be the next Goulash recipe in the future here.
However for now, let’s focus on the basic beef goulash underneath. Some people would call it the “old Vienna goulash” and others will tell you that this isn’t a basic goulash, yet according to chefs in Europe and my hotel management book it is the main goulash plate, available in Restaurants across Austria. You have to know, that in central Europe, everybody is very exact about names and little ingredient changes, but I am not going to be too much obsessed with that now…
What defines the Beef Goulash (better known as Rindsgulasch) is the use of Caraways seeds in combination with Paprika powder and Garlic as flavor. The meat, chopped onion & Garlic and paprika powder are glazed with Vinegar, so that the Paprika remains red. Here, white flour is used to bind the sauce. The meat itself is cut into 4cmx4cm thick cubes, compared to the pork gulasch that calls for 3cmx3cm thick meat cubes. My recipe includes all those steps, yet I have added some Tomato puree for the taste and as a color help, otherwise it’s pretty much what you would get if you were to order it in a Austrian inn. Oh by the way, I had served the gulasch with Spätzle noodles, which in my opinion fits well together, but feel free to serve it with other sides, such as rice, Knödels, Potatoes or even Polenta. Some folks out there eat it more like a soup, by dipping in bread, so that’s an other way of indulging it if you ever get bored of the dish. 😉
- 230 Gram Beef Flank cut
- 1 large Onion
- 7 Garlic pods
- 50 milliliter Tomato Paste
- 1½ Tablespoons Paprika Powder
- 1 Tablespoons Caraway seeds (not cumin - its not the same!)
- 2 Teaspoons Marjoram
- dash Vinegar
- 600 ml Water with 1 Maggie Beef Cube or Beef stock
- pinch Salt
- 1½ Tablespoon White Flour
- pinch Pepper
- 250 White Flour
- pinch Salt
- 1 Egg
- 150 milliliter Milk
- ½ Tbs Sunflower Oil
- Cut your Beef into 3-4 cm thick cubes and keep aside (I am not that exact here). Chop your Onion roughly and chop the Garlic pods as well.
- In a pot fry the Onions first glossy, then add the Garlic. After 2-3 minutes stir frying add the meat and continue to stir frequently. The onions should turn a bit yellow.
- Once the meat is a bit cooked on all sides, add in the Tomato paste and continue to add in the Paprika powder. (I add the paste first because I don't want the paprika powder to burn or it will taste bitter). Stir fry a little and continue to add in the Caraway seeds and Marjoram.
- Now, glaze it all with a good dash of Vinegar! Keep it to cook on slow heat for 2-3 minutes, then pour in the Water+Beef cube or use the Beef Stock, mix it and keep it covered stirring frequently, for 50 minutes on slow heat. The liquids will reduce and the covering of the pot will help the meat to soften.
- After 50 minutes cooking time, remove the pot from the heat and add the White flour to bind the sauce and Pepper for the taste.
- For the Spätzle noodles simply add the Flour and pinch of salt to a mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add in the Egg, milk and oil. With a spoon mix the content till smooth but not too long or it will become to tough.
- Keep a big pot to boil with salt water and grab one of those special spätzle sieves.
- Once the water is boiling place the sieve on top of the pot. Now pour some of the dough onto it and push it down with a pastry card by moving with it from left to right.
- When the pastry comes through the wholes, it will look like that on the other side and fall into the boiling water.
- Do that with all the dough in one go if you have a big pot and if you are quick, otherwise work in batches. The noodles are ready when they are swimming on top. Strain them well and place them into a dish with butter. Mix and serve warm.