Beefy Beer Goulash

During the cooler months, I’m invariably making a twist on stews. One of my favourites, because of my Hungarian roots, is goulash. A thick paprika-scented gravy covering beef or pork. My family had pork-based goulash predominantly growing up because my dad’s hometown in Hungary had mainly pigs as their major protein source.

Today, I wanted to include beef, partly because it was what I had in my freezer, and partly, I wanted that bold, intense flavour of seared, caramelized beef to pair with beer. The beer has a rich flavour all on its own that I needed beef’s bold flavour to balance it.

Like with any stew, the longer you can simmer the better. It can be done in a slow cooker, but today, I decided to do it on the stove top. Mainly because I didn’t think of doing it early this morning, so a couple of hours on the back burner works equally well.

I decided to only have the starch from the simmered potatoes along with sweet paprika do the work to thicken. Sometimes, modern goulash recipes use tomato paste or a roux (butter-flour) mixture to aid in thickening. And like much of Hungarian cuisine, it sometimes just takes an “extra ten minutes” of simmering (where “ten minutes” can be anything from ten minutes to a half an hour 😉 ). A mantra my dad taught me about this, paprikash and any thickened Hungarian dish.

The only accompaniment necessary is a a quick batch of nokedli (Hungarian egg dumplings like German spaetzle) or some nice rye bread to mop up the juices.

Beefy Beer Goulash

1 Tbsp cold pressed canola oil

450g/1 lb beef stewing meat

1 medium onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm (1/2″) chunks

2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1 cm (1/2″) chunks

1 medium starchy potato (like Russet), peeled and chopped into 1 cm (1/2″) chunks

1 sweet red bell pepper (or two sweet banana peppers), seeds and stem removed, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika

1 cup good flavoured beer (I used a Fuller’s Honey Dew, but whatever your favourite beer is will do)

2 cups chicken stock

   In a large pot over medium high heat, add the oil. When the oil is smouldering but not smoking, add half of the stewing meat. Sear it on one side for a few minutes until deeply golden. Turn and sear the other side. Push to one side of the pot and sear the rest of the stewing meat.

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Add the onion and celery. Stir vigorously to soften the onion and celery, scraping the bottom of the pan. The sweating onions will partially deglaze the pan as you scrape. Add the carrots and parsnips, continuing to stir continuously. This continuous stirring action will soften the vegetables and incorporate the flavours quickly at such a higher heat. Sprinkle with paprika and stir to coat all of the ingredients and toast the paprika.

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   Add the beer and stir, scraping the bottom to completely deglaze the pan of any brown bits on the bottom. Add the chicken stock, potatoes and peppers. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, remove the lid and increase the heat to medium. Reduce any excess liquid to achieve a nice thick gravy-like texture (about 10-15 minutes).

Serve with nokedli (Hungarian egg dumplings), rice, pasta or rye bread. Serves 4.

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