Almost Mom’s Goulash… And Cucumber Salad

March 4, 2018 at 5:56 pm | Posted in Toeses and Noses | Leave a comment

We went to see Mom yesterday, and it made me think of the Goulash she used to make. Needless to say, I had to make it for our Sunday dinner tonight.  Mom was an amazing home cook.  She was self-taught and it was always so good.  This recipe is based on the one she used to make for us, at least once a month when I was growing up.  As a kid though, I didn’t appreciate it as I do now.  She always served it with her version of a Cucumber salad, made with just four ingredients, most of which you likely already have in your home.  Mom never used Paprika, which is why this is ‘almost’ her recipe.  It’s really good nonetheless, warm and comforting.

Take the weekend off from counting calories and enjoy…

Goulash:

  • 1.5-2 pounds beef roast, steak or stewing beef, trimmed and cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 1 large Onion
  • 1 Roma Tomato
  • 1/2 Hot Chorizo or similar sausage, cut into 1/4” slices
  • 10 Black Peppercorns
  • 2-3 Cloves Garlic, peeled, smashed but not chopped
  • Red Chili Paste (optional)
  • 1-2 Tsp (Sweet) Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp (or to taste) Hot Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp Granulated Garlic
  • 1/2 Tsp Coarse Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Rosemary, crushed
  • 1/2 Tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1/4 cup good quality vegetable oil
  • 6-8 packages of reduced Salt Beef OXO
  • 1/4 cup Bisto Beef Powder (the Gravy Maker!)
  • 1/2 cup AP Flour
  • Enough cold water to form a Slurry – a thickish, runny liquid

Several hours, or even the night before if you can, cube the beef and season with all of the seasonings listed above, except peppercorns.  Add 1 Tsp of the Chili Paste. Stir and Refrigerate, covered until ready.  The seasonings above are approximate – if you ever asked my mom how much pepper she put on the meat, she would always say ‘to taste…’, which was mind-numbingly frustrating.  Season the meat well with the sweet Paprika and the Garlic Powder – it’s ok to be a little heavy-handed with those.  The rest are a good approximation, as I shake the seasonings directly onto the meat in batches, stir it up, then add more.

In a large, heavy bottomed pot, heat the oil, peel and crush the garlic cloves.  When the oil is hot, but not smoking, add the smashed garlic and gently brown.  Remove the Garlic from the oil and reserve.

Fry the beef in small batches so it doesn’t end up losing heat and boils the meat.  Brown on all sides and remove.  Add the next batch and continue until all the meat is browned, but not cooked through.  Add the sausage and brown as well in small batches until complete. Remove sausage – eat as a snack while you’re cooking the rest of the dish.  It’s not needed in the final product.

Skim off excess grease from the pan, but careful to leave the fond (the highly flavourful, brown bits of meat, seasonings and juice which is left at the bottom).  Add the meat back into the pot.  Coarsely chop the fried smashed Garlic and add to the pot.  Quarter the Roma Tomato and add to the pot.  Quarter the Onion and add to the pot.  Add the Peppercorns. Fill the pot with water, approximately 1/2 full or at least 1” above the level of meat.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  When the liquid begins to boil, add the OXO and let simmer for several hours.

The nice thing about this dish, is you can use cheaper cuts of meat.  Braising the meat for hours creates an incredibly soft, flavourful piece of meat.  Usually I’ll start the frying around noon, then by 5:00 it’s ready to finish.

When ready to finish, the onions and tomatoes should have broken down – discard the Tomato Skins.  Ensure the liquid is boiling.  In a cup or container, mix the Bisto and Flour together, then add the cold water, stirring or shaking to remove lumps.  Usually I pour this through a strainer to ensure there’s no lumps in the gravy.

Once the liquid is boiling, slowly add the slurry, ensuring you stir or whisk constantly until thickened.  The consistency should be similar to a stew, nice thick gravy, not runny.

Serve with Potatoes of your choice, Rice or Egg Noodles… and, of course, Cucumber Salad. Reheats beautifully and tastes even better the next day. The flavour is delicately peppered, producing the most delicious feeling of ‘back heat’ in your throat.

Cucumber Salad:

  • 1 large Cucumber, sliced thinly on a Mandolin
  • Table Salt (quite a lot, not exactly sure how much)
  • Fresh Ground Black Pepper
  • Miracle Whip (again, not sure exact quantity)

Begin by peeling and removing the tips of the Cucumber, discard.  Using a Mandolin, thinly slice the Cucumber (not your fingers).  Place 1/2 of the Cucumber in a bowl that will have room to mix later, and heavily salt.  The only way I can describe this, is to use more salt than you would think you need – after you stir, the cucumber should taste VERY salty.  This is good. Add the rest of the Cucumber, and salt again.  Stir well and place in the Fridge, covered for at least 1 hour (longer is better).

The idea is to draw the juices from the cells of the Cucumber – kind of like making Pickles.

When ready to make the salad, you will notice that the Cucumber is now sitting in a lot of juice.  Drain into a colander lined with Paper Towel and remove as much of the liquid as possible.  The salt will have left with the juice, and the Cucumber tastes remarkably less salty.

Add several rounds of freshly ground Black Pepper and a big scoop of Miracle Whip, or fake Mayonnaise.  Stir.  You will have added enough Miracle Whip if it is gloopy.  Yes, that’s a technical term.  This is not a salad for someone watching their calories.  Serve with Goulash. Hint, it’s even better if some of the Goulash gravy just happens to spill on the top of the salad.  When I was a kid, I figured it would end up this way, so I may as well try it.  It works. Well.

I hope you enjoy these two dishes as much as I do.

Tonight, I served the Goulash and Cucumber Salad with roasted yellow and sweet potatoes, parsnip and onion mixed with a drizzle of vegetable oil, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper. Yum.

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