German Style Goulash

And the Never-Ending Goulash Controversy Still Continues

Goulash Plate2

I know I have covered a lot of this in my Goulash Soup Recipe, but for those of you who are just joining us: What is Goulash? If you asked 100 people, you would probably get 200 different answers. If Goulash was on Facebook, it’s status would be “It’s Complicated”. Here is what Wikipedia has to say about it.

As you can see, the definition of Goulash changes as your location changes. First of all, let’s eliminate that glorified Hamburger Helper that some folks call Goulash. That isn’t Goulash. There is no macaroni in Goulash, although I do usually serve it with Spaetzle, which is a pasta, but it is not mixed in. Also, real Goulash is not made with ground beef. It contains chunks of meat. I usually use beef chuck.

In Hungary, the dish that is pronounced Goulash (Gulyás), is actually a soup. The dish that is closest to the goulash that most of us know is called Pörkölt.

Goulash Ingredients

Now that your heads are spinning, my recipe is based on the German dish Rindergulasch (Beef Goulash). Of course, there are also hundreds of variations, everyone claiming that theirs is the “authentic” version. Tomatoes or not. Potatoes or not. Green peppers, red peppers, carrots, what have you. It’s similar to the arguments over what constitutes Texas Chili.

I keep it pretty basic. In Germany, red wine is often used, but I use beer instead. I don’t use tomatoes either, but I do use a little tomato paste. As for potatoes and bell peppers, forget them. Not necessary.

Beer and Beef

Since it seems that many people received a shiny new electric pressure cooker over the holidays, I made this in my Instant Pot and wrote it for the electric pressure cooker, but of course it can be easily made in a stove top model.

A thickener such as flour could be used, but I prefer to just let it cook down for 7 minutes or so.

Cubed Chuck

Let’s start by browning the beef. Heat a few tablespoons of cooking oil with your sauté (or browning) setting on high. In batches, brown the meat on one side (this is enough to get the flavor of browning, but saves some time). Remove the beef to a plate.

Lower your heat setting to medium.

MandolineAdd another tablespoon of oil if necessary and sauté a couple medium onions until they soften. I like to slice them on “The Widowmaker” (my nickname for my mandoline), using the thinnest setting. Two sliced onions may look like a lot, but thinly sliced they will basically dissolve into the sauce, adding that oh-so-good oniony flavor.

Onions Sweating

When the onions soften a bit, add the meat back in.

Add in 2 heaping tablespoons of paprika, a teaspoon of caraway seeds, and a little salt and pepper. For full disclosure, I accidentally grabbed cumin seeds at the store instead of caraway. Since I was right in the middle of preparing dinner I substituted the cumin seeds, but I usually use caraway. I used Hungarian sweet paprika. If you like you can use half sweet and half hot, but I wouldn’t use only hot. That would change the flavor too much.

I also add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper at this point, but I will leave that up to you. I know some people seem to have a cayenne-phobia. 1/2 teaspoon doesn’t add much heat, but it is totally optional.

Plop in a couple tablespoons of tomato paste and, you guessed it, stir!

Now, pour in a cup of beer, 1/2 cup water, 2 tablespoons beef base (such as Better Than Bouillon) and 2 teaspoons of Kitchen Bouquet. A german lager works well for this. I used Stiegl, which isn’t German but Austrian. It’s not the best beer for drinking but works fine for cooking.

Toss a couple of bay leaves in.

Turn off the sauté mode and lock the top on the pressure cooker.

In manual mode, set the cooker for 25 minutes at high pressure.

When time is up, do a quick release and remove the cover.

With the sauté mode on medium, simmer the Goulash for 7 or 8 minutes to thicken a bit.

Goulash Finished

You can serve it with egg noodles, homemade Spaetzle (my favorite way), or boiled or mashed potatoes.

Goulash Plate3

I usually have red cabbage with it as well (you gotta have your veggies).

Hungarian Goulash
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Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: German/Hungarian
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 3-4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 2-1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-1.5" cubes
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced (I used my mandoline)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup german beer
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons beef base (like Better Than Bouillon)
  • 2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
  • 2 bay leaves
Instructions
  1. In electric pressure cooker, heat 3 tablespoons oil on sauté mode, high setting (medium-high heat in stovetop pressure cooker)
  2. Brown meat in batches on one side only and remove to a plate
  3. Switch sauté mode to medium, add another tablespoon of oil if needed (for stovetop model, lower heat to medium)
  4. Sauté the onions until they soften
  5. Sprinkle in paprika, caraway seeds, salt, pepper and cayenne (if using)
  6. Sauté for a minute
  7. Stir in tomato paste
  8. Pour in the beer and water
  9. Add the beef base and Kitchen Bouquet, then stir
  10. Toss the bay leaves on top
  11. Turn off sauté mode and lock top on pressure cooker
  12. On manual mode, set pressure cooker for 25 minutes on high pressure
  13. When time is up, do a quick release
  14. Remove lid and switch to sauté mode
  15. On medium setting, simmer for about 7 minutes to thicken a bit
  16. Serve with noodles, rice or spaetzle

 

Goulash Soup (Gulaschsuppe)

The Great Goulash Debate Continues

Goulash Soup Spoon

Whoo Hooo! I passed the test! “What test?” you might ask. Well, it certainly wasn’t a math test, because I surely wouldn’t have passed that. The test of which I am speaking is the one I set up for myself whenever I make any German dish. You see, my wife is from Germany, so every time I make a German dish, I set it on the table without mentioning what it is and if she immediately recognizes it I consider myself over the first hurdle.

In this case, she took a bite and said “Goulash soup?” Yes! At least she could tell what it was. The next hurdle is if she actually thinks it is good, and she did!

Goulash Soup Ingredients

Now that that is out of the way, it’s time to tackle the tricky subject of Goulash. Goulash can be many things to many people. First off, let’s take American Goulash off the table right away. Why this mixture of ground beef, macaroni and tomato sauce that is basically Hamburger Helper from scratch procured the moniker “Goulash” is beyond me, but it is now out of the equation, so we will speak of it no more.

Now, what is real Goulash? It depends where you are at. In Hungary, Goulash (gulyás in Hungarian), is basically a soup. Porkolt, which is a stew and is mainly composed of meat and paprika is what is known as goulash in other parts of Europe. It is kind of a European equivalent of Texas Chile. In Germany, for instance, what they call Goulash is Porkolt. Gulyás is called Gulaschsuppe, or Goulash Soup. Now that I have cleared that up. What, you are still confused? You and me both, my friend.

Beef ChuckBut for the purposes of this post we are dealing with German-Style Goulash Soup. This is a hearty, beefy, paprika-y, oniony soup that is just the ticket for cooler weather. And, believe it or not we are having cooler weather right now after months of 90-degree plus weather. Add to that the fact that the wife and I are both fighting colds at the moment, this was the perfect dinner for the circumstances.

I made this in the Instant Pot Electric pressure cooker, so the instructions reflect that. Of course it can be made in any pressure cooker.

Chuck Cubed

Start off with 1-1/2 pounds of beef chuck, cut into 1″ cubes. I like to buy a piece of meat and cut it up myself. It’s cheaper that way and only takes a couple minutes. You can also use pre-cut stew meat if you like, but you don’t always know what you are getting that way.

Chuck Browned2With the sauté setting on high, put a couple tablespoons of oil in the pot. In two batches, brown the meat on one side. Just browning one side is enough to get the flavors of browning but still saves some time.

Remove the meat to a plate.

Onions Bell Peppers

Lower the sauté mode to medium (on the Instant Pot, you will need to turn off the sauté mode then turn back on. If there isn’t much fat left, add another tablespoon of oil.

Sauté some sliced onion and a chopped green pepper until it starts to soften. Now, when I say “some” onion, I mean “lots” of onion. I used one onion, but it was huge. If your onions are more on the medium side, use two. When you first dump them in the pot, it might look like a ridiculous amount of onion, but when the dish is complete, it will be just right.

When the onion and pepper starts to soften, add in some garlic. I know that some fancy schmancy chefs may frown upon the use of a garlic press, but it saves time, and unless you have a recipe that calls for bits of chopped garlic, I like it just fine.

Meat With Spices

Continue to sauté for another minute and add a couple of tablespoons of paprika, a couple teaspoons of caraway seeds and some salt and pepper. The tablespoons of paprika can be a bit on the heaping side. This is a dish that originated in Hungary, after all. And speaking of Hungary, Hungarian sweet paprika is the best for this dish. Unfortunately, I went to the store to purchase some Hungarian paprika and they were all out, so I ended up using domestic Paprika. It was fine, but if you are able to get Hungarian paprika, go for it. If you like, you can mix some sweet and hot paprika, but I wouldn’t use entirely hot. Not that it’s that spicy, but it would change the flavor of the dish.

Chuck With Tomatoes

Add the meat back in and stir so that everything is coated with the paprika mixture.

Add a splash of wine just to deglaze. When I say splash, I mean just a couple tablespoons. A little wine goes a long way when cooking under pressure.

Wine

Put in a couple tablespoons of tomato paste, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, a tablespoon of honey, a can of fire-roasted tomatoes and a carton of beef stock.

Turn off the sauté mode, toss in a couple bay leaves and slap the top on the cooker. Set manual setting for 15 minutes at high pressure.

Potatoes Cubed

While this is going, get some potatoes ready. Cut about 4 medium red potatoes into cubes about 1″ in size. Waxy potatoes work best for this. Russets will get mushy. I used 4 potatoes which came out to about a pound. Put the potatoes in a bowl of cold water until needed. This will help prevent oxidation, because nobody likes brown potatoes.

Potatoes Soaking

When the time is up, carefully do a quick release, being sure to stand well clear of the path of the steam. When pressure is released, remove top, put in the potatoes, and put the top back on. Bring back to high pressure for 5 minutes.

Goulash Soup With Potatoes

This time let the pressure come down on its own for ten minutes, then do a quick release.

Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream. I admit my dollops are rather large. I prefer a whallop of a dollop.

Goulash Soup Finished

Best served with some German bread and butter, or even a giant pretzel! Oh, and beer!

 

Goulash Soup (Gulaschsuppe)
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Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: German
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4 servings
A hearty warming soup. Just add some bread and you've got a whole meal.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 tablespoons cooking oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1-1/2 pounds beef chuck, cut in 1" cubes
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 rounded tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 can (15 ounces) fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 carton (32 ounces) beef stock
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 4 red (or other waxy variety, about 1 pound) potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
Instructions
  1. With sauté setting on high, add 2 tablespoons oil
  2. Working in 2 batches, brown the meat on one side, then remove to plate
  3. Change sauté setting to medium and add another tablespoon oil, if needed
  4. Sauté onions and green pepper until they start to soften
  5. Add the garlic and sauté for another minute
  6. To this, add the paprika, caraway seeds, salt and pepper
  7. Add the meat back in and stir until the meat and vegetables are coated with the paprika mixture
  8. Add a splash of red wine (a couple tablespoons) to deglaze, scraping browned bits off the bottom
  9. Add tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, honey, fire-roasted tomatoes and beef stock
  10. Stir everything together
  11. Turn off sauté mode
  12. Toss in bay leaves
  13. Lock top on pressure cooker, turn on manual setting and set for 15 minutes at high pressure
  14. While soup is cooking, wash potatoes and cut into 1" cubes
  15. Put potatoes into a bowl of cold water until needed
  16. When time is up, carefully do a quick release, being sure to be out of the path of the steam
  17. Drain potatoes and add to the pressure cooker
  18. Lock top on pressure cooker and on manual mode set for 5 minutes at high pressure
  19. When time is up, let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes then do a quick release
  20. Serve in bowls with sour cream on top