When two pounds of onions melt into two pounds of beef, lovingly spiced with paprika, it’s a beautiful thing. This Hungarian Goulash is one of the easiest stews to make. And I’m really glad I made it for dinner this evening.
It’s funny how some recipes cycle in and out of rotation over the years. I first made this Hungarian Goulash in the mid-eighties. Then it was on repeat for a time in the late nineties. It made another reappearance in 2011 when I first blogged about it. And just this week, when I realized I had an extra bag of onions, my mind turned to this recipe. It’s been a long time.
I enjoyed it so much that I’ve updated this post from 2011, just a few months after I started blogging. It feels good to breathe new life into an old recipe that’s been lost in the archives.
Hungarian Goulash: What I Wrote in 2011
Extra Onions? Make Goulash!
I picked up a 2-pound bag of yellow cooking onions at the market last weekend, got home and what did I find in my pantry but another bag of the very same that I had bought the week before. They say when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. I say when life hands you extra onions, make goulash.
I scribbled down the recipe for this Hungarian Goulash in the mid-eighties while watching some long-defunct cooking show, and dug the scrap of paper out of my ever-so-famous little yellow recipe box on Sunday. I just did some quick research on the internet to see how authentic it is. I’m still not sure about that, but it certainly is much less complicated than most of the recipes I saw. Perhaps they’re souped up versions of this simple classic?
Regardless of authenticity, this stew is incredibly easy and quickly assembled. It only calls for a few principal ingredients, and the flavour is definitely swoonworthy. Not only that, but it will perfume your kitchen with an alluring aroma that will elicit repeated cries of, “Is it ready yet?”
Let’s Make Hungarian Goulash in 2020
Two pounds of onions may sound daunting, but it doesn’t take long to peel and slice them. And, although you might wonder if that mountain of onion will overwhelm the beef, they melt down and caramelize, ultimately adding a sweet oniony essence to the dish.
My oh my … seconds, please.
Two pounds of beef and two pounds of onions, married together with paprika, create a beautifully seasoned stew. Once everything has been prepped and combined, you can cook this Hungarian Goulash in the oven or on the stove top. Adapted somewhat from the recipe I wrote down while watching Cooking with Ruth by Ruth Fremes, back in the mid-eighties. This is one of those dishes that makes for leftovers that you can hardly wait to eat. It's great to make on the weekend and enjoy the following week. That's smart cooking!
- 2 lbs yellow cooking onions
- 2–2.5 lbs 2 lbs stewing beef, round roast or thick roundsteak
- 2–3 tbsp flour
- 2–3 tbsp neutral oil, such as grapeseed or canola
- 2 cups beef stock (I use a bouillon base)
- 2.5 tbsp sweet paprika, or an equivalent combination of sweet and hot paprika to your taste
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pre-heat the oven to 350°F if using it.
Peel, halve and slice the onions thinly.
If not using stewing beef, cut the roast or thick steak into cubes.
Put the beef in a paper or plastic bag with the flour, and toss until coated. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pot like a Dutch oven. Add the beef, leaving behind as much of the loose flour as possible. Sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste, then brown it on medium high heat in two batches. The trick is to let it caramelize and release from the pan before turning it over. If you try to stir it around too soon you'll break it up. Set aside the prepared beef and turn the heat down to medium low.
Add another tablespoon of oil if the pot seems dry, then strew the onions atop all the caramelized and sticky bits left behind from browning the meat. Sprinkle the rest of the salt over the oinions, and cover the pot, but stir frequently for about 15 minutes. Prepare to be fascinated by the magic of the onions cooking down, softening, caramelizing and integrating with all the lovely beef bits that have loosened from the bottom of the pot. Mmmm, looks good already. (This photo below was taken about halfway through the onion cooking time.)
Stir in the paprika, then add the meat and stock, and more black pepper if you like. Cover and finish in the oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. You can also simmer it on very low heat on top of the stove, but you may need to stir it a couple of times.)
The beef becomes ever so tender during the cooking process, and the onions practically melt into the broth, creating a savoury sauce highlighted by the sweet piquancy of the paprika. Serve with egg noodles, simple cooked or mashed potatoes, or just a slice of crusty bread and some side vegetables.
First published 2011 12 09
Republished 2020 04 19