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Kitchen Mailbox: Goulash greets hearty fall appetites

Thursday, September 23, 1999

By Arlene Burnett, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Our first hearty dish of the fall season is Hungarian Goulash. Hungarian Goulash is a stew/soup with meat, potatoes or vegetables or a combination of all the above. We received about 20 recipes for Hungarian Goulash -- and no two were alike.

As with most ethnic recipes, Hungarian Goulash is the cook's creation. The first recipe, sent in by Kenneth Utz of Uniontown, was taken from "The Hungarian Cookbook" by Susan Derecskey. It gives a basic goulash recipe with suggested additions of either cabbage, green beans, carrots or sauerkraut. We made the basic recipe and added sliced carrots.

The next goulash recipe was sent by Eleanor Ladesic of McCandless. It had more of a tomato taste and was slightly thicker. But the common denominator in both recipes was the paprika. Paprika is made of ground, sweet red pepper pods. Its flavor ranges from mild to pungent to hot. Paprika comes from Spain, South America, California and Hungary. Hungarian paprika is considered superior.

For both recipes we used the more pungent Hungarian paprika, but the generic paprika may be used. We enjoyed both recipes. Each has its own distinctive taste.

The request for Hungarian Goulash was sent in by Myrna Karetski of DuBois.

Hungarian Goulash

1 large onion, finely chopped
About 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds lean stewing beef, cut in 1-inch cubes
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, mashed with the back of a spoon
Pinch of marjoram
Salt
2 cloves garlic, peeled and stuck on toothpicks
4 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 medium green pepper, cored and cut in 1/2-inch strips
3 small peeled tomatoes, preferably canned (we used a 14.5-ounce can whole tomatoes, drained)
2 pounds (about 8 or 9 medium) potatoes

Csipetke (pinched noodles), recipe follows

In large Dutch oven or heavy casserole with a cover, sauté the onion in 3 tablespoons oil until it wilts; set aside. Pat the meat dry and brown using more oil if necessary; set aside.

Pour 1/2 cup water into pot, scrape up the juices and stir in the paprika, caraway seeds, marjoram and 1 teaspoon salt; add garlic and beef. Add enough stock to cover the meat by 2 inches (about 2 to 3 cups). Simmer 1 hour, covered, adding more stock as necessary to keep the meat well covered with sauce.

Mix in the green pepper strips and tomatoes. Continue simmering. Peel the potatoes and cut them in 1/2-inch dice and set aside in cold water until ready to use. When goulash has been simmering for 1 1/2 hours stir in potatoes and 1 teaspoon salt and enough water to cover them. Simmer another 25 minutes, partially covered, or until potatoes are done.

Note: If goulash seems too thick, add hot water a little at a time.

Csipetke

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 tablespoon oil

Mix the flour and salt and add the egg. Stir to make a stiff dough, sprinkling on a few drops of cold water if necessary. Knead until smooth.

Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes. Then flatten it a bit at a time between floured palms, or roll it out 1/8-inch thick on a floured surface and pinch off pieces slightly smaller than a dime. Drop into rapidly boiling water and cook until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain and rinse Csipetke and place them directly in the goulash. Or turn the csipetke into bowl coated with the oil; set aside in a warm place until ready to use.

Hungarian Goulash

2 pound beef chuck, cut in 2- inch cubes
1 cup chopped onions
6 tablespoons fat
1 tablespoon flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon paprika
2 cups bouillon
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups peeled diced tomatoes (we used a 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bouquet garni, see note

Cook beef and onions in hot fat until onions are soft and yellow. Lightly stir in flour, salt and paprika; cook 5 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, heat to boiling. Cover. Cook over medium heat or bake in moderate oven until meat is tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove bouquet garni.

Add cooked Spaetzle, recipe below. Serves 6.

Note: Bouquet garni is a bunch of herbs either tied together or placed in a cheesecloth bag and used to flavor soups and stews. This method allows for the easy removal of the herbs before serving.

Spaetzle

This German egg dumpling is usually served alongside stew or goulash. Spaetzle can be made by hand, which is what we did, or you may use a special spaetzle maker or colander. The spaetzle maker forces dough through small holes, which produce strands of dough. The colander works much the same way, only you have to manually force the dough through.

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
Pinch of freshly grated or ground nutmeg
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or water
6 cups salted water or chicken stock

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.

Beat together the eggs and milk or water. Add the flour mixture. Beat well with a wooden spoon to create a fairly elastic batter.

Bring water or broth to a simmer in a large pot. Drop small bits of dough from a spoon into the boiling liquid or force the batter through a spaetzle machine or colander. Spaetzle are done when they float to the surface. They should be delicate and light, although slightly chewy. If the first few are heavy and dense, add a few more drops of milk or water to the batter before continuing.

Serve with melted butter. Or melt butter in a skillet, add spaetzle and cook 3 to 5 minutes.

"Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer

Requests

Ruth Lewis of Rostraver writes: "I'm looking for some recipes. The first is from the Kenny Rogers restaurants -- green beans made with chopped tomatoes, garlic and butter. I used to work at South Hills Village mall. There used to be a food place called The Whole Grain. They had terrific soups. I believe they were a Stouffer's restaurant or Stouffer's recipes. The recipes I'm interested in are Spicy Potato Soup and a Zucchini Corn Chowder."

Dee Jackson of McKeesport writes: "I love cold pasta dishes as well as hot. I also love crab salads, made with the imitation crab meat. I can always find recipes for hot pasta dishes, but never cold pastas or crab salads. If you would be so kind as to provide me with recipes for cold pasta salads, especially linguine salad and imitation crab salads, it would be greatly appreciated."


If you want to answer a recipe request from a reader or are looking for a recipe yourself, please write to Kitchen Mailbox, c/o Arlene Burnett, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh 15222, or e-mail to aburnett@post-gazette.com. Please include a name, neighborhood and a daytime phone number. All recipes are kitchen-tested by the Post-Gazette.



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