I seem to be surrounded by goulash these days. Now that Dammit Boy lives in Vienna he makes it or eats it in a restaurant all the time.
Over there, goulash is traditionally served with a giant dumpling whose sole purpose it is to sop up all the yummy sauce. And pretty much any restaurant you go to has its own version. My favorite (so far) is at Zum Lieben Augustin, a lovely neighborhood restaurant where the bartender/waitress insists on providing you with a complementary shot of some kind of spirit after your meal.
This was one of our meals at Zum Lieben Augustin, the ubiquitous goulash on the upper left, during our most recent visit in March. And, yes, to gild the lily you can get it with a fried egg. I know what you’re thinking … that is one big ol’ table full of food and it was. But the secret to great health that all Austrians know is that if you walk everywhere really fast you can afford to eat like this. So far we’ve spent a total of four weeks in Vienna and I can’t recall a single main-course salad on any menu.
But I digress. So at the heart of it, goulash is really just beef stew. I don’t know what cut of beef is used in most Austrian versions because they divvy up the cow a little differently than we do. When I make my version, I use short ribs and a liberal amount of red wine.
Goulash My Way
2 pounds beef short ribs
Salt and pepper
1 large onion cut into thick slices
½ pound baby carrots
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
3 ounces tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Enough red wine to cover meat two-thirds of the way up the pot
1 cup beef stock
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
Salt and pepper the short ribs on all sides. Heat the vegetable oil over medium high heat on the stove. Add the ribs and brown thoroughly on all sides. Remove and reserve.
Add the carrots and onions to the same pot. Saute the vegetables until they begin to brown. Then add the garlic and tomato paste. Continue cooking for another 1-2 minutes and then add the short ribs and any accumulated juices back to the pot.
Add enough red wine to cover the ribs two-thirds of the way up the pot and the beef stock.
Put the pot in the oven and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Cook for 3-4 hours, checking occasionally to make sure there’s enough liquid in the pot, until the ribs are fork tender.
While the ribs are cooking, melt the butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat and add the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until they are well browned. Reserve.
Remove the ribs and strain the sauce to eliminate the fat. Add the sauce back to the pan along with the mushrooms, smoked paprika and the ribs.