The Great Goulash Debate Continues
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!
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.
But 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.
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.
With 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Best served with some German bread and butter, or even a giant pretzel! Oh, and beer!
|Goulash Soup (Gulaschsuppe)|| |
- 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
- With sauté setting on high, add 2 tablespoons oil
- Working in 2 batches, brown the meat on one side, then remove to plate
- Change sauté setting to medium and add another tablespoon oil, if needed
- Sauté onions and green pepper until they start to soften
- Add the garlic and sauté for another minute
- To this, add the paprika, caraway seeds, salt and pepper
- Add the meat back in and stir until the meat and vegetables are coated with the paprika mixture
- Add a splash of red wine (a couple tablespoons) to deglaze, scraping browned bits off the bottom
- Add tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, honey, fire-roasted tomatoes and beef stock
- Stir everything together
- Turn off sauté mode
- Toss in bay leaves
- Lock top on pressure cooker, turn on manual setting and set for 15 minutes at high pressure
- While soup is cooking, wash potatoes and cut into 1" cubes
- Put potatoes into a bowl of cold water until needed
- When time is up, carefully do a quick release, being sure to be out of the path of the steam
- Drain potatoes and add to the pressure cooker
- Lock top on pressure cooker and on manual mode set for 5 minutes at high pressure
- When time is up, let pressure come down on its own for 10 minutes then do a quick release
- Serve in bowls with sour cream on top