When I was in culinary school with the late, great instructor Chef Pepini, I was tasked with serving goulash to Chef Metz, the president of the Culinary Institute of America. I mistakenly doubled the amount of Hungarian paprika the recipe called for, and poor Chef Pepini turned purple yelling at me. Throwing it out and starting over was not an option. Lunch began in half an hour; goulash takes 2 1/2 hours to cook. I shook in my boots and tried not to cry (girls don’t cry in Culinary School) as I rinsed the paprika off the meat and onions to save the dish, mostly. President Metz did not complain.
Since that day, I’ve had an aversion to cooking goulash. However, a recent trip to Germany, Austria, and Budapest reconnected me with this delightful stew. While my family was skiing in Hintertux, I hiked with my bad knee from the base of the mountain to a local lodge with a huge fireplace. Surrounded by trekkers hiking with their dogs, I ordered the goulash and inhaled it with rye bread and hot tea. Maybe that was the moment I realized I wanted to try my hand at goulash once again.
The goulash in the lodge reminded me of how much our German heritage influenced my cooking. My dad loves goulash. I, begrudgingly, love goulash too. Yet somehow, our time living in Spain has overshadowed my ancestry and shows up much more regularly in my cooking. It seemed only right to somehow combine my Mediterranean and German lives. My personal love for Spanish smoked paprika and Fino Sherry add layers of flavors in this goulash recipe. I think it works really well.
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 lbs. Beef stew meat
- 1 teaspoon salt, Kosher
- Black pepper, fresh ground
- 3 teaspoons paprika, Spanish smoked
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large onions, sliced thin
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup sherry, Fino
- 2 Tablespoons flour, all purpose
- 4 cups beef stock
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 4 cups shiitake mushrooms, sliced
- Preheat oven to 350ºF bake or 325ºF convection
- Heat a large, oven-safe pot with a lid on medium and add the olive oil.
- Season the beef stew meat with salt, pepper and paprika. Add half the beef to the hot pan and sear. When the meat is seared on all sides remove and set aside on a plate. Repeat this process with the remaining beef. It is important to do this in batches so the meat retains the juices.
- Add two more tablespoons of olive oil to the pan. Add the onions and cook until transparent. Add the garlic and cook until it is fragrant and beginning to turn golden brown.
- Add two Tablespoons of flour to the mixture and cook for two minutes.
- Deglaze the pan with sherry. Return the beef to the pot.
- Add beef stock and bay leaves and bring to a gentle simmer. A stew should never boil or the meat will be tough. A gentle simmer is "the magic touch".
- While the goulash comes to a simmer. Heat a medium sauté pan with 2 Tablespoons olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the shiitake mushrooms in batches and season with salt and pepper. Sauté the mushrooms until they are slightly browned. You may need to add a bit more olive oil for each new batch of mushrooms. Add the mushrooms to the goulash.
- Cover the goulash and place it in the preheated oven for 2 hours.
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