Nasty weather days call for belly-warming meals, such as my Grandma Nair’s goulash.
Although goulash is a Hungarian dish described in food dictionaries as a “stew,” my grandmother wasn’t Hungarian, nor did she ever claim to make Hungarian goulash. Authentic goulash is often made with stew beef and Hungarian paprika and is served over buttered noodles. Grandma’s goulash was Southern-lady goulash made with ground beef and elbow macaroni.
Nevertheless, it was delicious. So when I knew the cold air and wind were coming to hang out for a couple of days, I thought I’d try making goulash the way my grandmother did. My aunt put together a book of Grandma’s recipes for all of us for Christmas last year, but I hadn’t gotten around to making the goulash yet.
This is an extremely basic recipe, but it’s the kind of recipe that shows you how much flavor ingredients like celery and green peppers can impart. It smells like stuffed peppers while it’s cooking. I will admit that I tweaked this recipe (Grandma, if you are reading this on a computer in heaven, I want you to forgive me for tweaking your goulash recipe because it is a habit I cannot break. I also want to know why there are computers in heaven).
Anyway, I added an extra can of tomatoes, which you will NEED for additional liquid, as well as a teaspoon of Hungarian paprika. That really makes the dish. Feel free to use home-canned tomatoes and fresh mushrooms if you want to class this up a bit. I used some nice grass-fed local beef.
1/2 box elbow macaroni
1 lb. ground beef
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 green pepper, finely chopped
2 to 3 stalks celery
2 cans (about 14 oz. each) diced tomatoes
1 small can of mushrooms
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook macaroni in boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Cook ground beef until just browned. If you used a fatty blend that released a lot of grease, drain most of that off.
3. Stir in green pepper, onion and celery and saute until vegetables start to get tender.
4. Add tomatoes, mushrooms, paprika and macaroni. Stir to combine, then cover and reduce heat to simmer. Simmer for 25 minutes.
5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.