What We Ate

by Kate Steadman

yum

yum

A day late, but while Spencer cursed our lounging and Sara…well…told us some interesting stories, we ate!

From the left: I made Hungarian beef stew, Kay roasted acorn squash with garlic and made spicy mashed sweet potatoes, and Matt brought a great salad.

The sweet potatoes were unreal awesome. Hopefully Kay will post the recipe. Recipe for the stew after the jump.

Hungarian stew isn’t really something that gets my blood going, but when I opened the most recent Cooks Illustrated issue and saw a recipe calling for 1/3 c. of paprika, I figured it couldn’t hurt to step out of my cooking comfort zone. More importantly, Kay went to Hungary this summer and graciously returned with a tin of real Hungarian paprika!

I’m not huge on stews. Nothing leaves me colder than a plain old beef and potato stew with a thin broth. Do not want. But this recipe is bright, with a rich textured broth and simple approach. There’s no boiled potatoes! There’s no peas. No green veggies at all, in fact. Just beef and carrots. Oh, and a shitload of paprika.

The only way you can mess this up is by buying low quality beef that doesn’t get nice and soft throughout cooking. It wafts a sweet tomatoey beefy smell through the house, excellent for cold days.

Hungarian Beef Stew
Ingredients

3 1/2- to 4-pound boneless beef chuck-eye roast , trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Salt
1/3 cup SWEET paprika
(12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers , drained and rinsed (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 large onions , diced small (about 6 cups)
4 carrots , peeled and cut into 1-inch-thick rounds
1 bay leaf
1 cup beef broth
Ground black pepper

Methods

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Ok, now you do what I did which is mess up a bunch of stuff. I decided to use the food processor to dice the onions since I doubled the recipe (aka 8 freaking onions. I’m not dicing all that by hand) and you need it to make the puree later. I just pulsed them and it diced them extremely small. I think this was actually a plus as they almost dissolved into the stew and gave it an amazing texture. I proceed to sautee the onions, you’re supposed to salt the meat then throw it in. I’m looking around, getting to the point where it’s time to throw in the meat, and I realize: there are two huge honking cuts of beef in front of me, that still need to be cubed for that actual stew. Fail.

Then I glance at the recipe again, and see this note:

Do not substitute hot, half-sharp, or smoked Spanish paprika for the sweet paprika in the stew, as they will compromise the flavor of the dish.

I look at my tin of paprika. Huh. It says “caliente”. So my awesome, truly Hungarian paprika, the entire reason I decided to make this stew, can’t be used! Argh.

Off the heat. Finish cubing the beef, throw some salt on it, and run to the grocery store for sweet paprika. If you go to the grocery store, you’ll notice none of the paprikas say “sweet” or “hot” on them. Fortunately I had looked at the side bar in the recipe, where they tasted paprikas. McCormick’s “Paprika” was CI’s third favorite. Generics (and reading!) save the day!

Ahem, and now we will proceed with the recipe.

So, after cubing and salting the beef, you dice your onion very finely then throw it in a dutch oven or other large pot (with a proper lid) with some olive oil. While the onions cook, combine the paprika, roasted peppers, tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons white vinegar in your food processor until smooth. Once the onions are soft, but not browned, pour your puree over them, stir well and let it cook for about a minute (You should be on med-high heat). Add the beef and stir evenly to coat. Plop in a bay leaf, put on the lid, and put the stew in the oven.

It needs to cook for about 2 hours. Give it a good stir every half hour and add a cup of beef broth after an hour and a half.

A few things to note: you can customize how thick you want the stew to be. I took out about 1 1/2 cups of liquid after it cooked for awhile because I wanted a hearty texture. This is optional, and same goes for the amount of beef broth you put in. Throw in as much as you like; it’s up to you.

4 responses to “What We Ate

  1. verplanck colvin

    The CI hungarian beef stew is phenomenal. The one thing that they say about the paprika is that is has to be fresh (no older than 6 months), or else the flavor is lacking.

    When I made it, there was an excess of sauce (the meat wasn’t sticking up out of the pot too much. Supposedly, that is a key part of getting the beef to be browned (no searing of the beef in this at all). But it still came out great.

    Were there any egg noodles or potatoes to serve as a base for your goulash?

  2. Pingback: What We Ate: Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes « The Internet Food Association

  3. Pingback: What We Ate: Roasted Garlic Acorn Squash « The Internet Food Association

  4. Try adding half a bottle of Bohemian beer to this to make an authoritative broth — you’ll be able to tell the difference, even in the presence of vinegar.

    Since you cook and dine as a group, and group-blog too, here’s a spice-buying recommendation that wouldn’t make sense for lone cooks. Go to the Atlantic Spice Company, atlanticspice.com, or their sister company in San Francisco, SFherb.com. These are spice wholesalers, and you can buy from them because they’ll sell you spices and herbs by the pound only. That’s a lot to buy, but you’re a lot of people, and holiday gift season is coming. You will save a truly staggering amount of money, many hundreds percent, over buying spices at the grocery store, and you’ll never have the wrong paprika again. Anyone who cooks and has friends who cook should be shopping there — you’ll see.

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