Hungarian Goulash


The weather forecast called for 3 days of snow starting Sunday morning. I excitedly anticipated this by purchasing all the necessary ingredients for an all-day-long pot of Hungarian Goulash. This is one of those dishes that could be made far more efficiently in a pressure cooker, especially when you’re offshore. But when you’re snowed into your cabin with your family at the marina, there’s nothing better than tending to a simmering pot of goulash all day.

From what I understand (please correct me if I’m wrong) Hungarian Goulash differs from Czechoslovakian Goulash in the large amount of root vegetables it contains. Czech Goulash is far lighter on the vegetables, more beef intense and is served with bread. We hope to share Czech Goulash with you here on Galley Pirates someday soon. Hungarian Goulash is traditionally made in a big caldron hanging over a fire pit. Impossible to replicate the smokey flavor of the wood fire on a boat, bacon fat and a few drops of liquid smoke at the end will help lend that little smoky flair.

Hungarian Goulash

4 tablespoons bacon fat
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
3 bay leaves
4-5 cups beef broth, in total (can be made with Better than Bouillon)
2 1/2 lbs beef shoulder, chuck or round
4-5 Roma tomatoes, diced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
3 parsnips, peeled and cut into rounds
1 small celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
3-4 sprigs of thyme
5-6 shakes of liquid smoke
Sour cream, optional
Fresh parsley, for garnish

Heat the bacon fat in a large stew pot or dutch oven. Add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant. Stir in the black pepper, caraway seeds and bay leaves. Cook for 2 minutes longer.

Remove from the burner and stir in the paprika to warm through.

Add one cup of beef broth and return the pot to the burner, on medium. I like to make my broth with Better than Bouillon Beef so I can adjust the saltiness. Add the beef cubes and stir until they are covered in the spices and start to brown.

Add the chopped tomatoes and 1 more cup of beef broth. The broth should cover the meat. If not, add more broth or water. Cover the pot with a lid, turn the burner to low and let simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

After this long simmer, add the root vegetables—carrots, parsnips, celery root and potatoes—to the pot. I have to admit this is the first time I have ever cooked celery root. I see those gnarly balls in the produce section and always wondered what on earth you do with them. And what they tastes like. Well, they have the consistency of potatoes and the flavor of celery, just as you would imagine. Add 2 more cups of broth and 2 cups of water. Stir together with the sprigs of thyme and splashes of Liquid Smoke. Let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove the thyme stems and bay leaves. Adjust seasonings as needed. Serve warm over wide egg noodles with a dollop of sour cream (optional). Or straight up with some good bread. Hungarian Goulash is often served with a cucumber side salad.

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