CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Thick and Beefy Goulash

There’s nothing more comforting in times of uncertainty than a good meat-and-potato meal. Or a pasta dish with ground beef or Italian sausage. And if you can throw in some good vegetables, all the better.

Just about everyone has a family favorite when it comes to this type of food. For some people, it’s a main dish, for others a side. I’m going to share three recipes that are revered as such and one that’s joined them in my book.

The first is Grandma’s Hotdish. Over the years, Therese has made this many times. Our grandchildren just love it. It’s nothing more than ground beef, a little onion, some green beans, tomato soup or a pint of whole tomatoes, elbow macaroni and a splash of Worcestershire sauce.

Next is my cousin Tom Menard’s goulash, 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 and the dish always was a big hit.

I can thank former co-worker and friend Brad Schlossman for the third. The recipe is for Slovenian goulash. Brad said that everyone in his family loves the dish, which was passed down from his grandmother, Jennie Nartnik. What I particularly liked about Jennie’s recipe is that all of the ingredients are readily available, and they include some of my favorite foods (pasta, meat and potatoes), as well as a generous portion a favorite spice, paprika.

Finally, I’m going to share a goulash recipe we tried the other night that was a favorite of Erica, Emily and Echo, who in 2007 started Favorite Family Recipes. This recipe originally hails from Hungary and features carrots and beef in a dark, rich sauce. Therese and I fell in love with it and probably will be passing it on to the kids and grandkids.

Nothing beats a good family tradition.

Thick and Beefy Goulash
2 pounds stew meat, cubed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium onion, diced
1 package dry onion soup mix
3 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
4 to 5 carrots, sliced
¼ cup cornstarch
⅓ cup water
Braise beef in oil until just brown on all sides. Remove beef from skillet and set aside. Add onions to skillet and saute until onions become clear and tender.
Transfer beef to a large pot and add onion soup mix, beef broth, paprika, Worcestershire and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about an hour. If you want the beef to be really tender, simmer for even longer.
About 20 minutes before serving, add carrots and simmer until ready to serve. Right before serving, add cornstarch to water and stir until smooth. Slowly stir cornstarch mixture into the mixture until reaching a thin gravy consistency. Add beef broth to thin out or more cornstarch to thicken. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving. Serve over mashed potatoes, rice or toast.

Grandma Jennie’s Slovenian Goulash
1 to 2 pounds beef (stew meat) cut into bite-size pieces (seasoned with salt, pepper and Cavender’s Greek seasoning)
4 potatoes, peeled and cubed (seasoned with salt)
1 1-pound box elbow macaroni (or egg noodles)
1½ tablespoons cooking oil

2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 tablespoons caraway seeds
2 to 3 cups ketchup
1 package Lipton Onion Soup Mix (just soup powder, not onion)
3 tablespoons Szeged Hungarian paprika
Put oil into Dutch oven or large pot. When hot, add garlic and then meat. Cook until brown.
Fill the pot ¾ full with water. Add onion soup mix, ketchup and paprika (also add crushed red pepper for spice, if desired). Add potatoes.
Place caraway seeds in a cheesecloth pouch and add to pot. Simmer for three hours and then remove pouch with caraway.
Thicken with cornstarch.
Add cooked macaroni to dish just before serving.

Cousin Tom’s Goulash
1 pound ground beef or bison
2 cups elbow macaroni
1 14¾-ounce can cream-style corn
1 15-ounce can Veg-All
1 10½-ounce can Campbell’s Vegetarian Alphabet Soup
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
Brown ground meat in large frying pan and drain if too much fat. While meat is cooking, prepare pasta according to package directions. Add noodle to meat along with remaining ingredients. Place in 2- to 2 ½-quart casserole and bake in oven preheated to 350 degree for 1 to 1½ hours. Serve with hard rolls or bread.

Grandma’s Hotdish
1 pound ground beef
1 14½-ounce can green beans
1 10¾-ounce can tomato soup or 1 pint whole tomatoes
1 small onion, diced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup ketchup
1 cup elbow macaroni, cooked per package instructions
Salt and pepper to taste. Brown meat and onions. Season with salt and pepper. Mix in green beans and tomato soup. Add cooked macaroni. Place in casserole dish and bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 60 minutes. Serve.

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