It is the special flavour of paprika that sets aside a proper goulash. Paprika is made by drying and grinding the sweet and hot peppers grown around Hungary. It’s much milder than cayenne pepper and has a characteristic sweetness. Its flavour varies from mild to pretty robust; its main purpose is to add flavour and colour, more than heat. Look for paprika that is labelled ‘noble sweet’.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 11/4 hours
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 kg rump or chuck steak or lean beef, cut into 2 cm cubes
2–3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
1 bay leaf
5 allspice berries, crushed
500 ml beef or chicken stock (or 500 ml water and 1 stock cube)
2 tablespoons cornflour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
chopped flat-leaf parsley, to serve
sour cream, to serve
Place the flour in a clean plastic bag. Shake a few pieces of meat in the bag until lightly dusted. Repeat until all the pieces of meat are coated.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Cook the beef in batches until browned, adding a little extra oil if needed. Be careful not to overcrowd the frying pan, as the meat will then steam rather than sear. Transfer to a large casserole dish or lidded saucepan.
Add a little more oil to the frying pan if necessary and cook the onion over low heat until tender. Add the onion, paprika, bay leaf and allspice to the casserole and cook, stirring, for 2–3 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer gently for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender.
Mix the cornflour with 50 ml cold water and add to the casserole with the tomato paste and a dash or two of Tabasco sauce. Bring back to the boil and simmer gently for about 5 minutes or until it thickened slightly. Garnish with chopped parsley and serve with sour cream.
Boiled egg noodles dressed with a little butter, chopped parsley and freshly ground black pepper make a tasty accompaniment to goulash.