Hungarian Goulash

It’s cool now in Los Angeles, and after a brutally hot and dry summer, it’s a welcome change of pace.  I write a lot about fall/winter dishes, and as a native New Englander, it’s nothing but appropriate to do so.  In LA, when the weather dips below 60, it’s cold.  I still think it’s funny. You will see people walking around in winter coats, hats, gloves, everyone at work talking about how cold it is, and how their bones hurt and they’re getting sick.  I find this amusing because in New England, 60 is not by any means cold.

However, it is a change of pace.  It is cooler.  So now, I am sitting here, drinking a warm cup of coffee, and the sound of a chicken stock happily bubbling away in the kitchen is keeping me company.  The cat is, of course, passed out somewhere.  She’s of no use right now.

So with the smell of chicken stock perfuming my apartment, and with the weather slightly cooler than it has been, there seems no better time than to once again talk about great winter dishes.  Winter dishes are fun.  When it’s brutally cold and dark out, you really have to be inside most of the time.  Cooking great food becomes a pass time, just like grilling is during the summer months.  Cooking great food also makes you feel good, in many ways.  The meal itself will be consumed within half an hour, but the afterglow lasts for much longer.

Hungarian Goulash

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 3 hours
Yield: 6 portion


2 beef marrow bones, roasted until dark
5 lbs beef tri-tip, cubed
4 carrots, cut into oblique or medium dice
1 large sweet onion, or 2 medium onion, small dice
2 ribs celery, small dice
4 tbsp Hungarian paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ground black pepper
kosher salt
3 sprigs thyme, minced
2 sprigs rosemary, minced
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 750ml bottle dry red wine (cab, merlot are best)
beef or chicken stock
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 bunch parsley, rough chop
1 lb crimini mushrooms, quarteres
vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb red ‘new’ potatoes, scrubbed and quartered


In a medium sized heavy bottom stock pot, begin heating a few tablespoons of the vegetable oil.  Liberally season the beef with salt and pepper.  Sear the beef, caramelized all sides.  Remove the beef from the pot and let drain in a colander.  Refresh the oil in the pot and add the celery, carrots and onion.  Turn heat to medium and cook until deeply caramelized.    Add the herbs and garlic and season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until highly aromatic.  Add the tomato paste and cook until everything is evenly coated.  No do put any color on the tomato paste, it will lend a bitter taste to the stew.  Deglaze with the red wine, scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits, and let reduce by more than half.  Add the beef back to the pot along with the marrow bones, season again with salt and pepper, and add your stock until the beef is slightly covered.  Add the potatoes and all the paprika and cayenne pepper.  Bring to a very gently simmer, and cook for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the beef is extremely tender (using tri-tip will produce a tender product, not dry).  While the stew is cooking, saute the mushrooms in a separate pan until deeply caramelized.  Add the mushrooms to the stew during the last 1/2 hour of cooking.

Check the stew’s seasoning, and season with additional salt, pepper and paprika if necessary.  Remove the marrow bones and bay leaf.  Add the parsley.  Serve right away.

Best served with warm mulled red wine, semi-soft cheese like brie or St Andre, and European bread.


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