Even in Hungary every home cook has their own version of gulyas or goulash as it has become known. Originally made by Hungarian herdsmen (gulyas) this thick soup, based primarily on onions, paprika and beef, has become the Hungarian national dish. Then there is porkolt. This is often confused with goulash the difference being that beef is not the only meat used and vegetables like carrots and potatoes are not added. Other variations include a Transylvanian dish known as tokany in which paprika is not the main ingredient the emphasis being on black pepper and herbs like marjoram instead and where mixed meats are used. There are also variations of goulash and porkolt throughout Eastern Europe; porkelt in Slovakia, porkolt in the Czech Republic and gulansz in Poland, a dish that blurs the lines still further as it is more like porkolt than goulash. Perhaps you can now see how people have become confused.
My own version of goulash borrows from all of these recipes and adds a little sausage as well. It is not an authentic Hungarian goulash but it is still very tasty.
500 g gravy beef or chuck steak (well trimmed and chopped into small cubes)
2 smoked Kransky sausages
2 large onions (chopped)
2 carrots (finely diced)
1 red capsicum (de-seeded and finely diced)
2 tbs Hungarian sweet paprika
1 tsp ground caraway seed
1 450 g tin diced Italian tomatoes
2 medium potatoes (peeled and diced)
1 cup water
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt (to taste)
2 tbs chopped flat leaved parsley
2-3 tbs olive oil
Heat oil in a large, heavy based pot. Add onions and cook until translucent. Reduce heat and add paprika. Stir until paprika is lightly toasted but not burnt. Add diced beef, capsicum, carrots and caraway, toss well in the onions and paprika. Add 1/2 cup water, cook for 5 mins. Add the rest of the ingredients apart from the sausages, potatoes and parsley and simmer for an hour. Add the whole sausages and diced potatoes and simmer for a further 45 mins. Remove sausages and slice thinly, return to the pot and simmer for a further 15 mins. Add chopped parsley and serve with buttered noodles.
To make your goulash more authentic omit the sausages, capsicum and tinned tomatoes. Use 800 g diced beef and use a bit more water. Simmer for 1 hour and 45 mins. Add a sliced green capsicum and a couple of diced fresh tomatoes, simmer for a further 15 mins. Add chopped parsley and serve.