The other day me and my friend Vicki have been visiting some good friends who just had a baby girl (very quite one by the way!). I offered to cook as I realized that they might be already busy with hosting (and the baby of course). As I wanted to cook something we traditionally eat in Lithuania I decided to go with goulash. I know it may not be exactly Lithuanian (originally Hungarian), but we cook that a lot as it is so warming for the cold weather (it's like a comfort food for me). There are soooo many versions of goulash as a soup (traditionally) or a stew with many vegetables or just with onion. But I must say that my favorite is with apples as it gives such a zest to it! Paprika stays as the vital ingredient of course but you can change traditionally used beef with turkey if you like. Here is my version of goulash. I hope you enjoy it ;)
500g beef (diced)
1 red pepper (or which ever colour you prefer)
1 tsp paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree
400ml stock (I like chicken stock)
150g cream fraiche (and more if you love it)
1. Heat up a large pan and fry the beef (in batches) in a little oil (I try not to use any oil as I have this belief that oil turns toxic when heated, instead I splash some water over it to stop beef pieces from sticking to the pan).
2. Remove and put aside fried beef and in the same pan (where the beef released its fats and juices) fry diced onions, shredded carrots, sliced pepper and chopped apple until golden brown (again, I use no oil as the beef juices should keep it from burning). Add paprika, tomato puree, pepper and salt to taste.
3. Return beef pieces to pan and add the stock. Bring it to boil, reduce the heat and relax (but watch out for hungry people who keeps sneaking in and asking "Is it ready yet?", "When is it going to be ready? and so on). This simmering goes on for at least an hour. Only when the beef is ready (means it is soft, not chewy) - the goulash is ready for the next step.
4. The perfect goulash needs to be thickened (in England I noticed the corn flour is used for that, but in Lithuania we just use normal wheat flour). So in separate small frying pan melt butter and fry wheat flour on the low heat (keep whisking while adding flour until it becomes like a paste). Pour the mixture into the goulash pan and turn off the heat.
5. The last bit of course is to taste it if all the flavors are combined well (add salt if needed). Then mix in cream fraiche and fresh parsley. Serve with mashed potatoes.
Gero Apetito (or Enjoy your meal in eng.)