I was first exposed to the cuisines of the world within the pages of a home economics teachers' cookbook - the type created from untested submissions and then bound with a ring binder and sold to raise funds for the Future Homemakers of America. It's hard to imagine now, when even the term "home economics" is outdated that I was surprised to discover that the British wrap a hard boiled egg in pork sausage and fry it (Scotch Eggs), or that Chow Mein could be made in the home kitchen and didn't just come from a can, or that Hungarians relished something called "goulash". Neither syllable "goo" or "lash" recommend it but my mother was able to see past the unappealing syllables and after travelling the world with my stewardess sister's Pan Am discount, found it's mildly exotic old world flavors reminiscent of European adventures. It was a revelation to my naïve culinary sensibilities that every culture has discovered, either in isolation or through the migration and assimilation of wander-lusted types, a soul soothing, stewed combination of seasoned meat and vegetables. The French have their Beef Bourguignon, the North Africans, cous-cous, the Russian, borscht and the Hungarians, their "gulyas". Beef (veal and pork are also used) braised with onions, green peppers, tomatoes and the requisite paprika require the standard treatment of cooking "low and slow" for tender, flavor-melded results. With origins in the repertoire of the Hungarian "herdsmen", this recipe was on the short list of dishes I prepared on every visit to Mom's as I stocked her freezer with foods she could fatten up on until I saw her again a few months later ....my version of "Goodies for Grandma's house."
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 medium onions, diced
2 pounds chuck steak or roast, trimmed of fat and cut
into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup flour for dusting
salt and pepper to taste
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large green bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
10 baby carrots, diced
1 can beef consomme
1 tab. "Better Than Bouillon" beef stock paste
5 cups water
1/2 cup red wine
3 tab. tomato paste
1 tsp. sugar
3 tab. sweet paprika
-Place flour, salt and pepper in large bowl and toss beef cubes in mixture to coat each piece of meat. In a large oven proof dutch oven or casserole, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the beef cubes a few at a time in a single layer so that there is space between the cubes and brown over high heat, turning with tongs to sear cubes on all sides. Remove beef from casserole and set aside.
-Add another tablespoon of oil, if necessary and cook onions, carrots and peppers over medium-high heat, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute more.
-Stir liquid, consomme, water and wine into the softened vegetables, scraping the bits of beef and vegetables of the bottom of the pot (deglaze). Bring to a boil, then return beef to pan and stir in tomato paste, beef stock paste, sugar and paprika. Return to a boil.
-Place in oven preheated to 300 degrees and cook covered for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until meat is very tender. Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes of cooking to allow the mixture to thicken and the sauce to glaze the meat. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 to 20 minutes. Taste for seasonings and adjust if necessary.
-Serve over wide egg noodles if desired. Garnish with minced fresh parsley. Serves 8.
**Be sure you use sweet paprika as opposed to hot - unless you like it very spicy! If you buy an imported brand, you may want to taste it before using.
**Our Hungarian hosts served guylas as a stew in a soup bowl, rather than over noodles. Either way is delicious.