CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Country Goulash Skillet

Goulash has a long history, dating back to the ninth century in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Today, gulyás is one of Hungary’s national dishes.

Without getting into too many specifics about the original version — the dish might be a little too much for those with a weak stomach — old-fashioned goulash featured meat that was cooked and dried (pemmican), stored in what we would consider a less-than-desirable container and then reconstituted for use in a soup or stew.

I’ve prepared and eaten a couple of different versions of goulash over the years. One came from a former co-worker, Brad Schlossman, who told me his recipe was one that had been passed down from his grandmother, Jennie Nartnik, who was of Slovenian descent. Its main ingredients were beef, potatoes and pasta seasoned with a generous amount of paprika.

The other was my cousin Tom Menard’s version, which I wrote about a few months ago and basically is a hodgepodge of canned ingredients (cream-style corn, Veg-All, Campbell’s Vegetarian Alphabet Soup and tomato sauce. Tom said my Uncle Fritz used to make it.

Recently, I gave goulash a third shot. The recipe was a variation of one I found in a Taste of Home cookbook. It contained ground bison (subbed for beef), home-grown vegetables (green pepper, corn, onion and carrots) as well as some frozen peas, canned tomatoes and cream of mushroom soup.

My Country Goulash Skillet doesn’t have the pedigree of Brad and Tom’s recipes, but it’s surely one that I would have no trouble passing down.

Country Goulash Skillet
1 pound ground beef
1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 10¾-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 medium green pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup frozen peas
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 cups cooked elbow macaroni (1½ cups dry)
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet, cook meat over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, soup, corn, green pepper, onion, peas, carrots and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in macaroni and heat through.
Yield: Serves 8.

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