Four years ago when I went to Prague, I ordered a dish of goulash at a little restaurant near our hostel. It was my first taste of goulash–my first heavenly taste of that paprika-y, hearty stuff–and I’ve loved it ever since. In fact, my goulash might be the first recipe I ever made that I can claim as a Kelly original. That recipe has lived through a few delicious incarnations as I’ve re-worked it through the years; I think this posting is the third version. And it’s by far my favorite. I’ve kept it simple and focused on my favorite flavors, most importantly the deep deep warmth of paprika, which absolutely rocks on a chilly winter day. An homage to my Bohemian relatives and a sweet memory of my trip to Prague, here is my updated recipe for Czech goulash!
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 lb stew beef, cubed
3 cloves garlic
3-4 tsp paprika
2 tsp caraway seed
1 tsp dried thyme
15 oz canned crushed tomato
4-6 cups cold water or stock
salt, pepper to taste
2 tbsp corn starch
sour cream, green onion, and marjoram or parsley for serving
Heat oil over medium in Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Add onions, carrots, and bay leaf, and cook until transparent. Then add the beef and cook until browned.
Stir in the garlic, paprika, thyme, and caraway seed. Cook for 2 minutes, until fragrant.
Pour in the tomatoes and 4 cups of stock and add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally and adding more stock if necessary.
After 2 1/2 hours, stir in the corn starch. Cook for another hour at least; I like to cook the goulash for a total of 4-5 hours if I have the time. We’re going for fall-apart tender beef that could almost float away in the broth/gravy/stew juices (or whatever they’re called).
Remove from heat and fish out the bay leaf. Serve with a scoop of sour cream and a sprinkling of green onion and parsley or marjoram. This stuff is amazing right out of the pot and only gets better as it sits in the fridge!