As someone coming from the foreign lands of Transylvania, growing up in a half Hungarian half Romanian family, I can safely say goulash (gulyás) was a staple dish in our home. I think the best way to describe goulash is as a classic, very rustic, beautifully colored and flavorful meat soup.
While it is the perfect comforting dish for a cold winter day, goulash is often eaten in the summer. While most people around the world would have a barbeque in the summer, in this region, it is very common for people to gather around a big pot of goulash, also called bogrács (bográcsgulyás), cooked in a traditional cauldron over an open fire. I remember my favorite part as a kid was to help my father get the fire started for the goulash. The goulash cauldron is suspended using a tripod, right over the fire. This method of cooking takes this classic stew to the next level by introducing a pleasant smokiness to the dish.
I’m pretty sure most of us don’t own the proper equipment to cook a pot of goulash over an open fire, in the most traditional way possible, but this flavorful Hungarian dish can easily be recreated at home, on a regular stove top. The recipe I’m sharing with you is adapted from the one my mother used to make for us growing up and it simply transports me back to my childhood.
- Prep time 20 minutes
- Cook time 3 hours
- Serves 8-12
- For the goulash
braising steak, preferably chuck steak, cubed
medium yellow onions, chopped
oil for sautéing
parsley roots, cubed
cloves of garlic, minced
pepper paste or 1 red bell pepper, cubed
knob of celeriac
dried thyme or a small bunch of fresh thyme
kosher salt, plus more to taste
potatoes, peeled and cubed
- For the dumplings
all purpose flour
- In a 5.5 quart Dutch oven or stock pot on medium high heat, sauté the onion in 4 tablespoons of oil until translucent. Next, add the braising steak and short ribs to the pot and sear the meat for about 15 minutes. You are not looking for too much browning on the meat.
- Add the tomato paste and pepper paste (or cubed bell pepper) to the pot and cook them for 2-3 minutes. Next, add the garlic, carrot, parsley root and sauté those with the meat and everything else that is in there for 3-4 minutes.
- Add the salt, peppercorns, paprika, thyme, celeriac, water and stock to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then simmer everything for 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender.
- Add the cubed potatoes to the pot and simmer everything for 15-20 more minutes, until the potatoes are fully cooked.
- While the potatoes are cooking, combine the ingredients for the dumplings in a bowl, mixing them with a fork for a couple of minutes. You should have a thick batter like consistency.
- Dip a metal spoon in the simmering liquid, this will make the scooping process a lot easier. Scoop tiny pieces of the dumpling batter in the goulash. Once you are done scooping all the batter in, let the dumplings boil for 3-4 minutes, turn the heat off and pop a lid on top of the pot. Serve with fresh herbs and hot peppers on top!