GOULASH by Oliver Knaus

Recipe shared by Oliver Knaus (Vancouver, British Columbia) 

Mom’s an East German farm girl but admittedly learned this doozie from a Styrian Austrian. There’s a lot of flexibility in all this so by all means, listen to your heart (and stomach) as you try this a few times.

  1. Start with a pound or two of cubed meat. Traditionally this means beef or a split of beef and pork. Personally, I like to cut the cubes down to smaller pieces than the supermarket sometimes does. Then, a chopped onion or two. What’s critical is that your mound of chopped onion be roughly the same size as your mound of meat.
  2. Use a teaspoon or three of unsalted butter (never cook with salted butter, jabronis) to pan-fry the onion. Once the onion begins to soften if not brown, you can start with the meat.  Oil your pot with canola and drop in the meat. Stir the uncovered meat frequently enough to avoid sticking.
  3. You’ll note that a lot of moisture will get cooked out of the meat and build up at the bottom of the pot.  The exercise here is steaming all that away.  
  4. Once the moisture has all cooked off, your onions should be about done browning and can be removed from heat.
  5. while the pan is still warm, sprinkle paprika powder (non-spicy) over top of the onions liberally (usually it’s 3ish tablespoons but you’re looking mostly to cover the surface of all the onion).
  6. As the paprika sets into the onion, add a tsp of white vinegar and stir thoroughly.
  7. once the pot is clear of meat moisture and only the beef/pork remains, add a quarter bottle of red wine to the pot that should still be at the medium heat setting.  Stir vigorously in order to get all the meat to absorb wine before too much of it steams away.
  8. As soon as the meat has all been well-exposed to that vino, pour the contents of your onion pan over top into the pot
  9. Add enough water that the ingredients are covered in full.  It’s meant to be a stew so don’t make it too soupy but don’t be afraid you’ll water it down either. We can troubleshoot that later if need be
  10. Bring the covered pot to a simmer then reduce heat while maintaining it for roughly 45-60min (I say 45, mom says 60). Overall simmering time 90min
  11. At the end of that time frame (you’ll cry how good your kitchen smells) we add a chopped bell pepper (or a half of one if it’s big) and two tablespoons of tomato paste.  Stir into the mix.
  12. Continue simmering for another 45 minutes (or 30 if you went with mom’s option in step 10)
  13. Now, and ONLY now, you may add salt to taste.  Traditionally the amount is going to be a little less than you added in paprika in step 5.
  14. Taste.  Here’s the kicker….if it feels like it needs way more salt or paprika go ahead and add some.  If it seems like it only needs a touch more, leave it be. See step 15
  15. Never eat goulash the same day you make it.  Let it sit in the fridge overnight or at least six hours.  Then the flavours will have had a chance and you can taste it again.
  16. Serve over the starch of your choice (quinoa, rice, potatoes, dumplings, etc.). I’ve even done it over a cut up avocado, oh my). Top with sour cream if ya like, but I’ve never found it necessary. 
  17. As to substitutions, I’ve tried this with skinless chicken thighs and that is your best white meat option.  You may also try with lentils for vegan, or ground meat if you’re on a budget, but I do not endorse the results.