Goulash and Other Things

Posted on February 14, 2007 by psu

Tonight a few recent discoveries, none all that long, but each very pleasing.

The Vacuum Insulated Thermos

These have changed the nature of our domestic hot drink management. After the initial purchase we went on to obtain three more of various different sizes. Combined with a nice electric pot for boiling water, these things will keep you in hot tea and coffee all day without a lot of sweat and bother. Highly recommended. Note: eventually we settled on the 16oz/.5 liter bottle as the best size.


When I was at Dartmouth, there was a guy there named Rudy who sold bratwurst and kraut sandwiches at the local farmer’s market. He cooked his kraut for like 48 hours before market day. Those were really good sandwiches. Rudy also made goulash. He would reduce the liquid in it to almost nothing and then freeze it and sell the blocks, telling you to add a bit of water to bring back the right consistency. He didn’t want to sell you the water.

Since then, I’ve tried to make goulash once in a while and always failed. Then Karen found a recipe on the net. If you read the page, the guy is so sure that he’s right you just have to try the recipe because it’ll either be great or completely awful. Either way you will have learned something. In this case, the recipe was top notch.

Here it is for my reference:

1 kg beef for stews, cubed

3-4 big onions, finely chopped

4-5 tbsp groundnut oil

3-4 tbsp best quality Hungarian sweet paprika salt, pepper

1 green pepper, sliced (the kind which is on the picture, not bell peppers)

1 fresh tomato (this one I add only if I’m in Hungary or if I can get some really tasty good quality tomato, otherwise it just makes the sauce too watery and sour and doesn’t add anything to the flavour)

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add the finely chopped onions and cook until translucent. Now comes an important secret step: remove the saucepan from the heat and now add the paprika – this is very important as if you would do this step still on the heat, the paprika could burn from the sudden heat and get bitter. Put it back, add beef cubes and stir so that the spicy onion mix covers the meat evenly. Cover with about 100-150ml water so that the liquid doesn’t completely cover the meat. Add the sliced green pepper, the whole tomato (later will be removed at the end), salt, pepper. Simmer covered on very low heat for about 1-1,5 hours. After 1 hour, check, add a litle more water if necessary, so the stew doesn’t burn. Depending on the thickness of the sauce, cook for 10-15 minutes uncovered so that all the liquid reduces and all what you get is a spicy, thick sauce which covers the meat. It tastes even better reheated, I normally prepare it a day ahead.

But, learn from our mistake. You might be buying paprika at the spice store and notice that there is something called Half Sharp paprika. You might wonder what that means. You might use some in your goulash. Be very careful. This stuff is like a hot chili powder, but with more kick. It makes great goulash, but you must be aware of your limits.

Pressure Cooker Chickpeas

A pressure cooker is one of those appliances I try to avod because it only really does one thing. But, when we got ours we reasoned that maybe we’d learn how to do those Indian lentil dishes in it like we saw my friend’s mom in DC do. This never happened. There is actually only one dish we do in the pressure cooker, which means every time I make it I have to remember how to use the device. Here is the outline. You take this stuff:

  1. 2-3 sweet potatoes, cubed.
  2. 1 small can of tomatoes.
  3. 2 cans of coconut milk (remember to shake before opening).
  4. Cayenne pepper.
  5. Curry powder. I use a weird mix of stuff.
  6. Salt and pepper.
  7. 1 1/2 cups dried chick peas, soaked overnight.

Put it all in the cooker and mix. Put the cooker on heat. Cook at pressure for 15-20min. Open up the cooker and throw in chopped cilantro and test to see if you need salt and pepper and more hot sauce. Stir it around and mash up the potatoes. Serve over rice. My friend Jim told me how to do this. Jim got the recipe from this book. Thanks Jim.