When you think about Hungarian cuisine, goulash or goulash soup is likely the first dish to come into your mind.
Unarguably a staple food in Hungarian cuisine, we don’t eat goulash as often as you might think. Just like normal food, we prepare it once in a while.
But if you have a good goulash recipe, you can make a real wonder in your kitchen. With just a few ingredients you’ll be able to prepare one of the most flavorful dishes that you’ve ever tasted.
How to cook goulash?
Although traditionally goulash was prepared on open fire, you can make it at home on a traditional stove. Of course the smokey flavor you’ll definitely miss, but try this goulash recipe and you’ll understand why Hungarian cuisine has some of the tastiest recipes in the world.
Use pork or beef cuts (see below) that need at least an hour and a half of cooking. Thus goulash is cooked slowly, usually for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. This way the meat gets really tender, and the flavors from the different ingredients have enough time to form a unique savor.
Goulash is essentially a soup (hence the name goulash soup). Thicker than an average Hungarian soup, but thinner than a stew, it’s really up to you how soupy you cook your goulash.
Authentic goulash has very few ingredients, and only 3 spices other than salt. The result is still a very savory dish, hence goulash is one of the miracles of Hungarian cuisine.
Originally goulash was made of beef (the original Hungarian word “gulyás” means “cowherd”). As beef is less popular in Hungary today, you mostly get goulash made of pork in restaurants and this is how most Hungarian families prepare this dish. You can use beef, pork, or mixed. I like to use 50% pork and 50% beef, as I did in this recipe.
Buy pork shoulder, maybe leg, beef shank, leg, brisket, neck.
To make a perfect goulash, you’ll only need onions to thicken your soup, carrots, parsnips and potatoes as main vegetables. Add some tomatoes and green or yellow bell peppers for seasoning and you’re done. No need to add any other ingredient if you want to cook real, authentic Hungarian goulash.
Vegetable oil or lard?
You may use either one as you wish. Making goulash with regular vegetable oil (i.e. canola or sunflower) will result in a perfect dish.
But if you’d really like to prepare a traditional, Hungarian dish, just forget all that b.s. you hear about using lard and go ahead and put it in your goulash! (Pork, duck or goose lard are perfect.)
Adding dumplings to your goulash
Whether you add dumplings to your goulash or not is totally up to you and your taste.
I do like them and I figure that most people and restaurants do add them. Still most goulash recipes don’t mention adding dumplings, so this is just a matter of taste.
And of course: paprika
To make the best goulash, you’ll definitely need high quality, preferably Hungarian paprika. Check out Bende Hungarian Paprika Powder Sweet 8oz/226g.
I figure most restaurants use more paprika than we do when making goulash at home. It’s up to your taste, this goulash recipe uses a moderate amount, you can use more if you like.
- Prepare the ingredients: chop onions, dice meat (about 1/2 – 1 inch or 1-2 cm), slice carrots and parsnips (about 1/5 – 2/5 inch or 0,5-1 cm thin), cut pepper in 8 pieces and dice tomato.
- In a large saucepan saute onions over medium heat until golden, about 7 minutes.
- Take off the heat, add paprika and ground caraway seed and stir.
- Back on the heat, add meat and stir. Turn the heat high and brown on each side, until the meat starts to sweat, for about 6-7 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Season with salt and pepper, add bay leaf, tomato and green pepper, stir and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 16 oz (about 500 ml) water, cover and cook over low heat for about an hour.
- It’s time to add the carrots and parsnips. Stir and cook for another 20 minutes, covered.
- The meat should be almost done by this time. Add the potatoes and 16 oz. (about 500 ml) water. Bring to a boil and cook for another 15 minutes, covered.
- If you like dumplings (galuska): mix 2 eggs, 16-18 tbsp (120-130 g) all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp salt roughly (you don’t need to process the dough too much). Take off the lid, add 8 oz (250 ml) water to your goulash, wet a teaspoon and immerse 1/2 – 1 teaspoon portions of dough in the lightly boiling goulash (see pictures). Cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Your Hungarian goulash is ready to serve – enjoy!
Hungarian name: gulyás (goulash) or gulyásleves (goulash soup).