Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Paprika yesterday, Goulash today.

I cannot leave yesterday’s subject of paprika without considering Hungarian goulash. My understanding of the history of this dish is severely hampered by my lack of knowledge of the Hungarian language, so I hope one or some of you can help out. Instead, I want to give you another perspective on this famous ‘traditional’ dish. For a British perspective on goulash, naturally the Oxford English Dictionary must be my starting point.

The OED defines goulash as “a stew or ragout of meat and vegetables highly seasoned … often called Hungarian ragout”, and informs that the name derives from the Hungarian words for herdsman (gulyás) and refers to the meat (hús) enjoyed by this hardy outdoor worker. The first reference in English is given as appearing in a letter written in 1866 by the Crown Princess of Prussia “   I have all their favourite dishes cooked..for them—goulash for the Hungarians, and polenta and macaroni for the Italians.”

An early English interpretation of the concept of goulash appears in From Twenty lessons in domestic science: a condensed home study course, glossary of usual culinary terms, pronunciations and definitions, marketing, food principles, functions of food, methods of cooking, etc. (1916) by Marian Cole Fisher (formerly of St.Paul Institute of Arts and Sciences, Chautauqua Lecturer.)

Hungarian Goulash (Gulyas)
(A choice dish of mutton)
2 pounds mutton (cheaper cuts)                       3 medium potatoes
2 medium onions                                 1 green pepper
½ cup drippings or margarine              1 cup rich milk or evaporated milk reduced slightly
Salt and paprika to season
Parsley to garnish

Preparation : Place the drippings in a deep stew kettle, aluminium preferred; slice the onions and green pepper into it and cook briskly for ten minutes. Then cut the meat into pieces about the size of an egg and cook until well seared over, about fifteen minutes. Add half a cup of hot water; cover and cook until tender over simmering burner or low fire, adding water in small quantities as necessary.
When meat is tender, place the potatoes, which have been diced, on top of the meat; cover again and steam until tender, but not too soft. Then add the milk, salt and a generous seasoning of the paprika.
Serve garnished with minced parsley.
The main point to remember is to keep barely enough water on the meat so when finally the milk is added there is no water remaining. That is the secret of the choice flavor.

Beef or veal may be used, taking the cheaper cuts. But the Hungarians use mutton in making this dish, for which they are famous.

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