Gulyás – Hungarian Beef Goulash
I’m always in for different ways to eat oxtail as it is one of my favorite cuts of meat. It is so flavourful and the intermingling of fat, tendon and meat makes it all the more interestingly texturally. Apart from the standard beef stews, I’d also used it as a substitute for beef briskets in more Chinese dishes and oxtail works well for them too. I know that Gulyás or Hungarian Beef Goulash typically uses stew cuts like chuck roast which are chunked to become much smaller actually. But definitely no harm in trying out with oxtail. I’m glad I did because it worked beautifully.
Gulyás or Hungarian Beef Goulash, as the name implies, originated from Hungary in Central-Eastern Europe and is a national dish there. But its popularity extends to almost the entire continent, especially as a hearty dish in winter. The word “Gulyás” actually means herdmen who led a somewhat normadic life, driving cattle around looking for pastures. I guess the goulash would be one of the dishes they ate most often, if not invented. Goulash can also be cooked with pork or venison but the beef version is the most common.
The making of goulash varies with geographical location as well as between families. It is essentially a beef stew with a lot of root vegetables which collectively, lend an earthy sweetness to the meat and the sauce. I’d used celery, carrots, potatoes, parsnip and onions in approximate ratios of 1:1 for everything. Perhaps a tad more celery and a bit less parsnip but it doesn’t really matter. Can go more generously with the onions though i thought…
I don’t have Hungarian sweet paprika and used Spanish smoked paprika mixed with Piment d’ Espelette from France instead. The combination provides a mixture of sweetness and heat, but most importantly that lovely smoky flavours. Not sure if it is authentically Hungarian though… but it most definitely worked for me!
The process of cooking a goulash is quite no-brainer. It is practically like any other beef stews. I’d cooked the oxtail first to remove any scum from the meat and most importantly, allow the fats to firm up so that they can be trimmed away easily. Next, I sweat the onions in a casserole (Le Creuset of course!) and added the garlic and bay leaves subsequently to work up the aroma. I’d used fresh bay leaves but I seriously don’t think they are better than the dried ones. Purely vanity sake if you ask me. In fact, the dried ones have a much stronger scent, in my humble opinion.
Then in goes the root vegetables which had been chunked up previously. It is good to saute the vege cubes a bit. Duncha just love the colours!?
The in goes the oxtail, canned tomato puree, paprika powder a pinch of allspice powder and topped up with water. Everything is given a good stir before being left to stew and simmer for slightly more than an hour or so for the oxtail to cook and soften until they are fork tender. Traditionally, goulash is served with homemade dumplings or even pasta. But I was in the mood for bread and happened to have half a loaf of sourdough. Crusty bread with a rich and thick stew… need I say more? 🙂
Gulyás – Hungarian Goulash Recipe (serves 4)
1.2 kg of oxtail (or 600g of beef chunk roast, brisket or shin)
2 large potatoes, cut into cubes
1 large carrot, cut into cubes
1 large parsnip, cut into cubes
3-4 stalks of celery, cut into same size as other vegetable cubes
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut in halves
2-3 bay leaves (fresh or dried)
1/2 tsp of caraway seeds (I’d replaced with 1/2 tsp allspice powder)
2-3 tbsp of sweet paprika powder (I’d used a mixure of Spanished smoked paprika and French Piment d’ Espelette)
1 small tin of tomato puree
2 tbsp cooking oil or butter
water as needed.
2 tbsp sugar
salt and ground pepper to taste
To a pot of boiling water, add rinsed oxtail and cook for 10 min.
Drain oxtail and rinse again with water to remove scum, and trim off any excess fat. Discard blanching liquids.
In a large casserole, add oil or butter.
Saute and sweat the onions to soften.
Add bay leaves and chopped garlic, and saute until aromatic.
Add root vegetable cubes, and caraway seeds or allspice powder, and stir fry for 1 min or so.
Add tomato puree, paprika powder and oxtail chunks, Mix well before adding water barely the ingredients are barely submerged.
Mix well and bring everything to a boil. Lower flame to medium-low and simmer for 30 min.
Season with sugar and salt. And continue to simmer for another 30 min or until the oxtail chunks are fork tender.
Serve with csipetke, pasta or crusty bread.