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Traditional Hungarian Goulash With Dumplings

A traditional Hungarian Goulash recipe of meat stewed in onions, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Finished off with a little vermouth and traditional Hungarian dumplings. This national Hungarian dish started out as a modest dish invented by cow herders.

A bowl of traditional Hungarian goulash stew with dumplings.

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Goulash started out as a humble dish developed by cow herders called Gulyas in the 9th century. They made this stew from previously cooked beef that they then dried out. A type of beef jerky you can take with you for several days.

When it was time to cook the stew, they boiled it in water with onions. That is the original Hungarian goulash. It has changed over time, more ingredients were added, especially Hungary’s national culinary treasure, paprika.

The first stew was made with beef. Each home cook has their own recipe. You will find some homes that make it with pork, a more common meat in some parts of Hungary. It is occasionally also made with lamb.

Goulash is a great example of culinary diaspora. With the marriage of a Hungarian prince and and Italian princess, tomatoes and wine made their way to Hungary. With the discovery of the new World, potatoes and peppers did too in the 16th century. These all eventually made their way into the stew.

This dish is easy to make but does take a long time. If you have busy weekdays, better save this recipe for the weekend. Feel free to double this recipe, if you have two large pots, and freeze half without the dumplings. Then on busy weeknights, you can just re-heat and make dumplings or serve with crusty bread instead.

The Goulash I Grew Up With

The traditional Hungarian stew in this post resembles very little to the Goulash that I grew up with.

As a young girl in a big city, I distinctly remember Dad rubbing the palms of his hands together as he often did when he was excited about something. The question posed to him was, ‘What’s for dinner Dad?’. The inquisitive and selfish being was yours truly. My appetite often drove my motives.

‘Goulash!’ he replied. I was excited because he was excited. Any dinner that garnered such enthusiasm from my dad was surely going to be good.

It was in fact, VERY good. It was a savory dish of elbow macaroni, tomatoes, spices and the rare treat of ground beef. Dad was the main cook in the family. He took his duty seriously, something of which my appetite appreciated. Thanks Dad!

Ten years later I would enjoy this same dish in Army basic training. They called it Chili Mac. I appreciated this dish, I was homesick at the time. Chili Mac, American Goulash or whatever you call it, was a warm hug in a bowl, despite the drill sergeant that barked at us to eat faster. I hope this is a warm hug for you too!


How To Make This Dish

Ingredients for goulash.

Gather your ingredients. Trim extra fat off of the meat. Cut meat into bite-sized pieces. Peel and chop potatoes.

Meat browning in pot.

Brown meat in batches in large pot over medium heat with a little oil. Turn until all sides are browned, set aside in a bowl.

Brown bits at the bottom of the pot.

The brown bits left behind is known as ‘the fond’ and is where a lot of flavor is hiding.

Onions and peppers in the pot.

Add onions and bell pepper, stir frequently until soft, scraping the bottom of the pot to release the fond.

Stirring the onions and pepper.

Continue cooking until the vegetables are soft.

Adding spices and garlic to pot.

When the vegetables are soft, add caraway seeds, garlic and paprika, stir to combine. Cook for one more minute to release the flavors.

Canned tomatoes added too pot.

Add canned tomatoes, crushing the tomatoes with spoon into smaller pieces. Stir well and cook for two more minutes.

Meat and potatoes added.

Add meat, potatoes, broth to pot.

Broth added to pot.

Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium low. Simmer with lid on for 1.5 hours.

Eggs, salt and flour in a bowl.

Add flour, salt and eggs to bowl, stir to combine. Add more flour if necessary.

Dumpling dough.

Form six balls from dough.

Dumpling dough dropped into simmering pot.

Increase heat to medium. Add dumplings to simmering pot. Cook for five minutes.

Dumplings cooking in pot.

The dumplings will swell as they cook.

Hungarian Goulash in a white bowl.

Serve stew with dumplings, garnish with parsley.

A bowl of goulash garnished with parsley.

A note About Dumplings

Drop dumplings can be made with homemade dough such as in this recipe or with store-bought biscuits cut in half. They are designed to help sop up that beautiful broth.

If dumplings aren’t your thing, serve with crusty bread or mashed potatoes instead.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is the difference between American goulash and Hungarian? – Hungarian goulash is a stew with meat, onions, peppers and tomatoes. The American version is a pasta dish made with ground beef, tomatoes and elbow macaroni. The American version is also known as American Chop Suey or Chili Mac.
  2. Which cut of meat is best for goulash? – Shin, shank, shoulder and country-style ribs are best for this type of stew. The collagen in these types of cuts will help thicken the stew. The starch from the potatoes will also thicken the stew. Other thickeners such as flour or cornstarch are not added to traditional Hungarian goulash.
  3. What is the difference between goulash and paprikash? – Goulash is a stew, seasoned with paprika and made with meat and vegetables including potatoes. Paprikash looks similar but is made without potatoes.

This recipe was adapted from the cookbook East European Kitchen by Catherine Atkinson and Trish Davies.

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A bowl of traditional Hungarian goulash.

Traditional Hungarian Goulash

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

A traditional Hungarian Goulash recipe of meat stewed in onions, tomatoes, peppers and potatoes. Finished off with a little vermouth and traditional Hungarian dumplings. This national Hungarian dish started out as a modest dish invented by cow herders.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 3 lb pork country-style ribs (may substitute beef), excess fat trimmed off, cut into bite-sized pieces.
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 Tbs minced garlic
  • 1 tsp caraway seeds
  • 2-3 Tbs Hungarian sweet paprika
  • 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 1 lb Idaho potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup dry vermouth, may substitute red or white wine

DUMPLINGS

  • 125g all-purpose flour (or about 1 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs

GARNISH

  • Parsley

Instructions

  1. In large soup pot, add oil and heat to medium heat. Add pork and cook in batched until browned on all sides. Set meat aside.
  2. Add onions and bell pepper to pot, stir well. Continue cooking until soft.
  3. Add garlic, caraway seeds and paprika, stir for one minute.
  4. Add tomatoes and continue cooking for a few more minutes.
  5. Add broth, potatoes, meat, stir. Bring pot to simmer, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 1.5 hours.
  6. In a small bowl mix flour, salt and eggs to form a shaggy dough. Divide into 8 equal pieces.
  7. Increase heat to medium, add dumpling to simmering pot and cook for 5 more minutes.
  8. Serve in large bowls and garnish with parsley.

Notes

  • Other cuts of meat such as shoulder, shin and shank are good choices for this recipe. The collagen in these cuts will help thicken the stew.
  • If you don't like dumplings, this stew is great with either crusty bread or mashed potatoes.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 739Total Fat: 33gSaturated Fat: 10gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 213mgSodium: 636mgCarbohydrates: 43gFiber: 6gSugar: 8gProtein: 57g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Hannah

Saturday 23rd of January 2021

I have a similar story in that what my family called Goulash was not actually goulash. Ours was also made out of ground beef. Your goulash recipe was a wonderful dish on a cold night. I really liked using pork instead of beef and the dumplings gave it a little something different. I like the idea of serving the goulash over mashed potatoes. I might they that the next time I make it.

Tina

Sunday 24th of January 2021

This recipe really worked for me. I would like to try different dumplings, just so curious. I'm glad you liked it Hannah!

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