One of the things I miss most from the way I used to eat back home is how little "spoon meals" we have here. That would be a literal translation of a Croatian phrase "Jela na žlicu". By that we obviously mean anything like soups and stews, and those kind of meals are eaten very, very often back home. Lighter kind of soups are a must for weekend meals as starters, and vegetable type of thicker soups or stews commonly called "čušpajz" are served during week, often accompanied with some kind of protein on a side. My favorite čušpajz is made with leftover bean soup cooked with ham and some pasta added to it. I will try to write a post on that particular one soon. Some others that I really love are leeks an potatoes čušpajz or kale and potatoes čušpajz. I love all of them really. Creamy cucumber čušpajz is a favorite of my Aunt Đurđa's meals and my Grandmother is the queen of all "spoon meals". Her pea and carrots soup with dumplings is the best ever. It surprises me every time I think of some of my favorite meals and the fact that I've had this blog for a while now and I still didn't make a post about it. I will have to fix that soon.
Today I am going to share my moms recipe with you for a Hungarian Goulash. I do not claim it is the most authentic, but that is how we called it in our house and this is how she makes it. It is incredible. The flavors are just nuts in this, you should make it because it is such a rewarding and comforting one pot kind of a meal, and it's something you probably don't get to try very often, isn't it fun trying new stuff? Specially when you don't have to run to three different specialty markets to make a meal.
Nah, scratch that. I love going to three different specialty markets to make a meal. :D
Hungarian Goulash Stew
by my mom :)
1 pound of beef chuck, cut into about 3/4" chunks
3/4 pound of pork shoulder, cut into 3/4" chunks
*1/2 of lamb or veal if you have it, cut into chunks
few Tablespoons of canola oil
2 large onions, sliced very thinly
4 potatoes cut into 1" cubes
1 to 2 hot peppers, depending how much heat you like, but it is supposed to be quite spicy
4 bay leaves
2 tsp of paprika
1/8 tsp of freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground caraway seeds (I have a little spice grinder I use for this)
1 cup of white wine
1 beef bouillon
1 Tbsp of tomato paste
salt and pepper
*this stew is the best with three different kinds of meet. If you can't find lamb, veal or even some game meat, just put extra beef, it will still be delicious.
Put onions into a large pot with canola oil and season with salt. Saute until they are completely translucent, but don't caramelize them. When thy are ready, add all of the meat. The meat will release some juices and cook it on medium heat stirring occasionally until all of the water evaporates and you are down again to just the oil in the pot.
Once all of the water has cooked out season with salt and pepper, add the spices, the bay leaf and wine and let it cook out. Pour water in just to cover the meat. Cook like this for at least an hour, adding water as needed.
Then add the tomato paste and the hot peppers, add the potatoes and enough water to cover it all plus an extra cup. Add the bouillon and cook until potatoes are done, for about half an hour. Check for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as need. Serve with a chunk of bread for dipping.
Another version of this stew is to add dumplings in it, and I like this version even better, but this time I didn't do it because we were all so hungry we got impatient in the last few minutes. Also, you can always do this the next day with the leftovers when you are re-heating them.
1/2 cup of flour
pinch of salt
some water, I always eyeball it but no more than a 1/4 cup
Mix well to make dough little thicker than for pancakes and add to the stew one teaspoon at a time, about ten minutes before it is done.