As with the Belgian carbonarde so too with this traditional Hungarian dish – a good stock makes all the difference. You can omit the stock and have a very fine stew – but the stock will give your goulash that extra zing that will transform you from a good cook into an elevated master cook. The stewing cuts are tough with little fat and no bone so a stock goes a long way in imparting not only flavour but nutrients as well. The stock and salt will help all other flavour compounds link up and form a happy, harmonious partnership that your palate will instantly recognise and feel content with.
Other than the vegetables used for the mirepoix I generally leave vegetables out of this dish since it is a long slow cook and added vegetables just get stewed to death. Just before serving and once the stew has cooled to a temperature where it no longer burns the hand add a tablespoon or two of either sour cream or yoghurt and sprinkle with either chives or parsley. The natural micro-organisms in these soured, fermented dairy produce will boost your gut flora and the enzymes will help digest the cooked food.
150 – 200 gr/adult portion of stewing beef.
150-200 gr/adult portion of stewing pork.
1 TBS. paprika – I used smoked paprika but use some with a sharper, piquant effect if you want.
Balsamic vinegar (or any vinegar you have to hand).
Onion, carrots, celery for the mirepoix.
Beef, veal or chicken stock.
For the marinade
Sprinkle the meat with the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, olive oil and vinegar and rub over the meat. Leave to rest anywhere from three hours to overnight. Since it’s winter leave the marinade on the kitchen counter so that it will be cooked at room temperature rather than the temperature of the fridge. Your meat will be more tender as a result.
For the stew
Fry the onion, carrots and celery in either some lard or goose fat. When the onions have turned translucent add the marinated meat and brown all over. Add the stock. The liquid should cover the meat by at least 2 cm. If you don’t have enough stock top it up with some water.
Place in the oven and leave to stew on 120 degrees centigrade for three – five hours. If necessary thicken with some arrow root or cornflower.
Serve with either mashed potatoes, dumplings, spätzle or tagliatelli and a fresh green salad.