Aug 27 2008

Heirloom Recipe—Hungarian Goulash

Published by at 12:16 am under heritage recipes,Hungarian

Having been born in Hungary coincidentally “Hungarian Goulash” is my all time favorite “soothing the soul” dish. So I decided to share it first.

I read somewhere in Hungarian folklore that it’s thought that the original Hungarian Goulash originated back in the time of the Huns. It was a meal that was a cross of stew and thick chunky soup. The herdsman in charge of the sheep, would set up his cooking pot over the coals in the fire-pit in the morning. Throw in a variety of meat-cuts, mostly lamb, mutton or venison and vegetables such as onions and carrots if they were available and the goulash would simmer pretty near all day.

The only thing this recipe still has in common with the old herdsman’s type of goulash is that this meal resembles a cross between chunky soup and stew.

Dad’s Mom’s side of the family can be traced back to an orchard property in the northwest of Hungary. (I think I have just the right amount of ‘greats’) Great-great-great-granddad Adalbert bought it in 1806. This recipe supposedly goes back to his second wife Ilonka. She had gained a reputation of being a fabulous cook. “She had the ability to make gourmet meals with only a cup of water, salted sows ears, a tail and paprika”. (Grandma’s funny saying translated from Hungarian). I bet Ilonka would be pleased to know that her recipes are cherished and still live on as my son and daughters follow them too.  


·          2 lbs stewing beef—(any of the cheaper cuts will do fine)

·          2 large onions—finely chopped

·          3 large carrots—chunked

·          1 large tomato—chopped (can be substituted by 2 tbsp of tomato pure)

·          1 large red or green pepper—coarsely chopped (mild Sheppard or bell)

·          3 large potatoes—peeled and large chunked

·          1/2 dried chili pepper

·          1 1/2 teaspoon of salt

·          4 tbsps of mild Hungarian paprika—if not available red Spanish paprika

·          1 clove of garlic—minced

·          2 tbsps lard—I substitute olive oil

·          ¼ teaspoon Caraway seeds—(I never add any because I don’t like the flavor of caraway in anything but rye bread)


Saute onions in oil until golden brown; remove from heat; add paprika, give it a quick stir and quickly add a cup of water (the paprika flavor will get bitter if not diluted with water fast). Now add spices and remaining ingredients add enough water to cover all. Set over med-low heat and simmer until meat is tender (timing depends on the type of meat-cuts used). If you’re looking for a thicker stew type combine 2 tbsps of cornstarch with 1/2 cup of water. Slowly add cornstarch wash while stirring.

Serve with thick chunks of fresh bread or baguette. Traditionally sourdough rye bread is the perfect accompaniment.


This recipe works out perfect in a slow-cooker. I love to use new crop small baby potatoes scrubbed and whole.


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