With all the hubbub of the holidays, I haven’t done much cooking. We spent the holidays in the mountains at my MIL’s house where I was treated to two traditional Austrian Christmas dishes. Now that I’m back home, I thought I’d try my hand at an Austro-Hungarian speciality – Paprikagulasch (Bell/Sweet Pepper Stew).
Gulasch originated in Hungary which was part of the Austrian empire (1867 – 1918), thus Austria’s partial claim to and love of the dish. The word gulasch comes from gulyás (Hungarian for ‘cowboy’) whom, on their long cattle drives, would butcher weaker cows and make a hearty stew from them. Paprika (sweet/bell pepper), the Hungarian word for ‘pepper’, is widely used in flavoring Hungarian food and is essential to a good gulasch. In The Bahamas and in the States, we know of paprika in its dried & ground form; however, here both forms (fresh & ground) are referred to as paprika.
Gulasch is prepared in many ways; in fact, I would make hubby’s favorite several times in the cold New York winters – Schwarmelgulasch (an Austrian stew using Chanterelles – a type of mushroom). It can be made with potatoes, sweet/bell peppers, mushrooms, beef, chicken, sausages, or wild flesh (deer, boar, etc). However you make it, it must include good, flavorful ground paprika! This delicious, hearty, tangy stew is often served with strong bread; however, pasta, rice, polenta/grits, knödel, or spätzle accompany it just as delectably. Gulasch is also good enough to be served on its own as well. Another great thing about gulasch is that it tastes even better the day after!
Paprikagulasch* (serves 4, cooks in about 2 ½ hours)
2 red bell/sweet peppers**
1 yellow onion
2 Tbsp olive oil***
1 lb of stew beef
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaves
2 tsp marjoran
3 -4 cups beef broth or 1 beef bouillon & 3 – 4 cups water
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp good basil vinegar
1 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp ground sweet paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
salt & pepper
Wash and slice the onions and sweet pepper into strips. Cut the stew beef into bite sizes. Heat the oil, under high temperature and braise the stew beef. Remove the beef from the pot, lower the temperature, and add the peppers and onion. Saute until the onions are translucent. Add 2 Tbsp tomato paste and saute for about 3 minutes. Add the bay leaves, majoran, broth (or bouillon & water), and meat to the pot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and let cook for 2 hours.
Press the garlic and mix with the vinegar, sugar, 1 Tbsp tomato paste, 1/8 cup of water, ground paprika, and ground cumin. Add to the stew and let simmer for 15 minutes. Taste & season with lemon zest, salt, & pepper. Serve with an ice-cold strong beer.
*recipe translated (by me) and adapted from 1 Topf – 50 Gerichte by Martin Kintrup
**please do not substitute green or yellow sweet/bell peppers as they do not have the flavor required for this dish.
***the original recipe by Mr. Kintrup calls for pig fat; however, its not to my liking.