Tortured Goulash

I went online to refresh my memory of how to cook goulash and discovered that Americans cook it with elbow macaroni. How could you, people? How could you? This is an abomination.

But it gets worse. There are people who put GROUND beef into it. I couldn’t read beyond that but who knows what other form of torture they imposed on that noble old dish. Maybe there’s a dollop of ice cream or a slice of pizza on top.

21 thoughts on “Tortured Goulash

  1. American goulash is a very different meal from the one you’re thinking of. I think I heard someone say something about Hungarian goulash being the “real” goulash—maybe try searching for this in particular?

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  2. “Hungarian goulash being the “real” goulash”

    Hungarian goulash (gulyás) is closer to beef stew than anything called goulash in north america. It’s a soup, usually eaten with bread (and no noodles!)

    What others call goulash is called pörkölt in Hungarian, usually beef or pork slow cooked with paprika and a little red wine. It is served next to (or over) noodles, my favorite noodle with porkolt is probably tarjonya (sort of like couscous but the pieces are much bigger).

    If chicken is used then it’s csirke paprikás and is served with a dollop of sour cream.

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    1. Wow, this is the first time I’ve seen a comment with a photo integrated into it.

      In Ukraine we often put goulash over mashed potatoes. We are obsessed with mashed potatoes. But I’m planning to make the real kind today. I happen to have some really hardcore paprika. Smoked.

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  3. “Americans cook it with elbow macaroni”

    To me that’s a separate dish and nothing to do with goulash (despite the dumb name), I’m not even sure what I might call it, maybe “mac ‘n beef’ ….

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  4. But have you seen the price of beef lately? I admit we cook “goulash” (from cliff’s description I guess we should call it porkolt) with paprika, red wine, garlic, and… yeah, ground beef. Mostly because we can’t afford any other kind of beef lately, and it helps to have as many ways to season it as possible, so it doesn’t get too boring. I need to learn to make chicken paprikash — that sounds good.

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    1. I buy all our beef from the farmers who raise it, usually a quarter of beef at a time, and most of it arrives as ground beef. The steaks and roasts are a rare treat, the ground beef is the everyday stuff, and I end up using ground beef for a lot of recipes that call for the other stuff. I would love to have your goulash recipe. 🙂

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      1. There is no recipe, we just brown the beef, spoon out some of the tallow and put it in the fridge for later if it’s too much, add chopped garlic and give it a minute to sizzle, add a very liberal amount of paprika, salt and pepper to taste, slosh of red wine, and cook it long enough that it doesn’t taste alcoholic.

        We are heathens and we eat it over rice. Often with green beans. The foodie police will come and arrest us any minute now.

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        1. I think rice would be better for it than elbow macaroni. I’m probably prejudiced against elbow macaroni because Klara has a friend who always comes over and these elbow macaroni are the only thing she eats. I’ve cooked probably a couple of tons of them over the years.

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        2. “we eat it over rice”

          Not the weirdest idea in the world, here’s a picture of pork porklot over rice (with a pickle on top… because…) Hungarian pickles are okay but a bit monotonous, they pickle all types of things but it’s always the same sweet pickle mixture. In Poland it’s mostly just cucumbers but more variety in flavor….

          Porkolt and potatoes aren’t the most common combination but it happens, here’s a picture of mutton porkolt with potatoes (a pickle and a pickled apple paprika stuffed with sauerkraut)

          I do a freestyle combination of goulash and porkolt, pork with onions, garlic and carrots and different types of paprika. The secret is to start the vegetables then add the meat and then the spices but no water and to cook it stirring frequently so that it almost but not quite burns, then add wine and let that absorb and then add water to cover and cook till the pork is tender (no picture). It’s best over radiator pasta though fusili also work.

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    2. Have you seen the price of everything, would be a better question. I’m using the beef my mother found on one of her food hunts when she was visiting. She comes over, scavenges the region for affordable cuts, and then freezes them for me. Isn’t it funny that we have had to remember some of our old Soviet skills of hunting provisions?

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      1. Yeah, this is what we have a chest freezer for: so that when there’s a good sale we can stock up. We did this even before the price of everything went nuts. Over time the balance is just shifting away from beef and skewing toward poultry. We cook a lot more turkey than we used to, since the per-pound price for a whole turkey is still pretty reasonable, less than pork, and gives some variety. It is starting to seem kind of weird to think of roasting a turkey as a “holiday” thing. Maybe we’ll splurge and do roast beef this Thanksgiving…

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          1. haha, if we keep eating turkey at our current rate (roast turkey, then turkey soup, turkey sandwiches… we have so far stopped short of turkey curry and tacos… my kids might go on a hunger strike for the holidays if we can’t have something else.

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            1. Turkey meat has completely disappeared around here. But we do get a lot of cheap pork. Which is unfortunate because nobody in the house likes it much.

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              1. Pork is delicious if it’s pasture-raised and all natural. The stuff in the grocery stores is borderline inedible without adding lots of other stuff for flavor, but pastured pork is wonderful as is.

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              2. I have heard this about pastured pork, and am keen on trying it. But so far we can’t afford it unless we raise the pigs ourselves. Maybe when we get out of rental housing… 😉

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