Hungarian Goulash - Magyar Gulyás

Gulyás has a very long history in Hungary and there are so many different varieties made today. It was originally made by herdsmen in rural areas of Hungary, who were called gulyás, and from whom this soup is named. The gulyás would go out to the fields to tend to their flocks, not coming home for days. The simplicity of the soup made it a staple and an important meal for these men.

I have found many recipes for goulash, both in books and across the internet. One thing is certain, traditional Hungarian goulash is a soup, not a thick chunky stew that most of us Americans seem to think of it as.. and have changed it to be. Because of the wide variances in all the recipes I have found, it's difficult to find a recipe that looks "traditional" to me. Though, I was able to find a simple base recipe from an old cookbook written and published in Hungary, sometime between the two World Wars. I've based my version of Goulash off this recipe.

Hungarian Goulash:
2 lbs beef, 3/4 inch cubes
2 onions, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3-4 medium potatoes, peeled and 3/4 inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 Tbs Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp caraway seeds, slightly crushed with the back of a spoon
2 Tbs butter or oil
sour cream for garnish
fresh dill for garnish, if available
salt to taste

 1. In a pot, fry the onion in the butter or oil on medium heat, just until they begin to brown. Toss in cubed beef, green pepper, paprika and caraway seeds along with roughly 1 cup of water. Mix thoroughly so there are no clumps from paprika. Put on the lid and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the beef is cooked completely through and has begun to absorb the flavors of the paprika and caraway seeds.

2. Add 8 cups of water along with the salt and mix thoroughly so everything is evenly mixed. Place the lid on the pot and let simmer for at least one hour, preferably two. The longer it cooks, the more tender the beef will be.

3. Twenty minutes prior to serving, toss in peeled and cubed potatoes and let boil. After twenty minutes have passed, the goulash is done.

4. Serve in bowls, garnished with a dollop of sour cream and fresh dill. The sour cream and fresh dill really add that finishing touch to the dish, they are absolutely necessary! Enjoy!