My grandmother Maria was one tough lady. She had very strong opinions and made them known. She came to this country with my grandfather Ludwig. They raised their twins, my mother Else and her brother Walter, in Ridgewood, NY. My mother and her brother were staying with Maria in Germany at the start of WWII. Thankfully, they got out in time and returned to life in America. At that time in New York, Germans were not always made to feel welcome in this country and my mother told stories of being treated unkindly at school.
One piece of Maria’s culture that was passed on to my cousins and I was the art of traditional German cooking. All of us learned, from watching and helping, how to cook these treasured family recipes. All of us still produce the holiday meals of our past, though not together anymore sadly.
This past week has found me stuck inside the house, but there are no complaints here. Whenever I’m home, I love to stay in my pajamas all day, read and cook – and maybe have a glass or two of wine. Nothing soothes the soul like the foods from our childhood. Food stirs up so many memories of my past through smell, taste and the process of creating these meals feels like being wrapped in love. Today, I’m making goulash using my updated version of Maria’s recipe. You see, like most of her generation, Maria never wrote down any recipes. Else, my mother, tried to replicate the recipes and added her touch to them. My Aunt Agnes added her input to the recipes along the way. Now, my cousins and I have taken over and added our own tweaks.
Here’s the most recent version of Maria’s Goulash. If you make it, let me know how you liked it.
- 3 – 4 slices of bacon chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion chopped fine
- 1 celery stalk chopped fine
- 2 tbsp sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons whole caraway seeds
- 2 pounds grass-fed bottom round beef, cubed
- 1 1/2 cup bone broth (I use chicken as I prefer the taste)
- 1 bottle beer (nice German lager)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1-2 cups chopped carrots
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Pour a glass of wine for the chef, turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen
- Heat the oven to 275 F.
- Brown the bacon in a Dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Once brown remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
- Put meat in storage bag with 1 cup of flour. Shake to coat the meat evenly. Place the meat in the cast iron pan with bacon drippings over medium heat. Stir to brown the meat evenly. If you need to, add a bit of olive oil to prevent the meat from sticking, but don’t worry it just makes the gravy taste better. Once brown, remove the meat and set aside.
- Put 2 tbs unsalted butter in the same pan (no need to clean in between steps) and toss in the chopped onion and celery. Simmer for about 4 minutes. Turn down the heat to medium-low and continue cooking the onion, stirring from time to time, until the onion browns and begins to caramelize at its edges – about 20 minutes further.
- Stir the paprika and caraway seeds into the onion, and then stir in the bottle of beer to deglaze the pot. Use your wooden spoon to remove any drippings and release back into the sauce. Reduce heat.
- Add the cubed beef, broth and vinegar to the pot and continue to stir. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you want some spice add a dash of red pepper flakes.
- Cover the pot and place in the oven.
- Cook 2 1/2 hours, then add the carrots and stir. Cook another hour, or until meat is tender. The longer the better! Add additional broth as needed if it thickens too much, but remember it is not soup.
- Mix flour, salt and nutmeg in a bowl.
- Beat the two eggs and add to the flour mix.
- Using a fork mix together until thoroughly mixed, and fine bubbles begin to appear.
- Heat a stock pot full of water to a boil. Transfer the spaetzle batter into the spaetzle press over the pot.
- Press the batter through into the boiling water.
- Remover the spaetzle with a large slotted spoor, or drain in colander when it begins to float. Only takes a few minutes.
Plate the spaetzle in a large pasta bowl. Top with goulash. Enjoy this meal with an ice cold German beer, or a nice glass of red wine.
What recipes do you make that are family treasures? Please leave a message below and I’ll give the a try.