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A basic recipe for Goulash inspired by the woman who taught me how to love slow food, my grandmother.
Course Main
Cuisine European
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Author Johan Johansen


  • 200 grams bacon sliced or chopped
  • 2-3 large onions halved and cut into slivers
  • 500 grams button mushrooms cut into quarters
  • 500 grams red bell peppers deseeded and cut whichever way you prefer
  • 1.5 kilos stew meat cut into bite-sized chunks
  • 500 ml heavy cream
  • 500 ml beef stock
  • 1 glass of quality red wine something you’d actually drink
  • 100 grams concentrated tomato paste
  • 400 grams canned chopped tomatoes
  • 3-4 tablespoons paprika
  • 1-2 tablespoon smoked paprika can substitute regular
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 0.5 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 3 splashes tabasco or other hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato ketchup


Render bacon fat and sweat onions down:

  1. Grab a large heavy stew pot of choice (preferably cast iron) and dump in the bacon along with a tablespoon or so of cooking oil.
  2. Turn heat under pot to medium and cook bacon, stirring occasionally until it turns crispy and all the fat has rendered out.
  3. Lower heat slightly and add the slivered onions along with a little pinch of salt, stir to coat onions and allow the onions to cook down while you continue on with the recipe (toss or stir every five minutes or so).

Brown the meat:

  1. At this point, season meat generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Grab your favorite cast iron or stainless steel pan and put it over high heat on a separate burner.
  3. When pan turns hot, add a splash of cooking oil and start browning your meat.
  4. To properly brown your meat it’s important to never fit more meat in the pan than would fit into a single layer. Depending on the size of your pan that may mean you’ll have to work in batches of 2-300 grams, so be it.
  5. When your meat hits the pan, it should hiss angrily. That’s the sound of water evaporating quickly. It’s also a good sound.
  6. After a couple of minutes of more or less angry hissing, you can start slowly turning your chunks of meat. Do so slowly, those raw surfaces of the meat will bring down the temperature of the pan quicker than you’d think, so don’t start chucking everything around. Move kind of slowly and appreciate the nice deep char you’ll see on every little piece.
  7. Once every little chunk of meat has been turned and properly browned, you can move the browned pieces of meat to a bowl and start over with the next batch. This entire process will take quite a bit of time, but believe me your patience WILL be rewarded.

Brown your mushrooms:

  1. Once all your meat is browned, add a little more oil to the pan (if needed) and add your mushrooms along with a little pinch of salt.
  2. They, too, will hiss at first but quickly dump a lot of water into the pan and start boiling way. Let them.
  3. Once all the water has evaporated, your mushrooms will start frying and turn a nice, dark, brown color.
  4. Once thoroughly browned, turn down the heat, and dump in a generous knob of butter along with the chopped garlic and a few grinds of black pepper.
  5. When butter has melted, add mushroom mixture to your bowl of browned meat cubes and get ready to deglaze the pan.

Fry tomato paste and deglaze:

  1. Return the pan to the heat, dump in the tomato paste and fry for about a minute to mellow the acidic bite and release additional flavor components.
  2. After about a minute, kill the heat, dump in a glass of red wine and stir thoroughly, making sure to scrape along the bottom to release any flavor compounds that may have stuck to the pan during cooking.

Everybody back in the pot:

  1. At this point, check your stew pot. The onions should have turned lightly brown, soft and have reduced remarkably in size.
  2. You can now add the bell peppers, the meat, the mushrooms and the tomato/red wine mixture.
  3. Also add the paprika, thyme, bay leaves, chopped tomatoes, stock and cream. And stir everything well together.
  4. If the stew ingredients are not completely submerged, add more liquid in the form of stock, cream, water, wine or all of the above. Just don’t go too heavy on the wine.

Cook forever:

  1. Raise heat and bring pot contents to a boil, then back down the heat to maintain a low, steady boil.
  2. Add in Worchestershire sauce, hot sauce, ketchup and stir again, then leave to cook uncovered and relatively undisturbed for at least two hours, preferably longer until beef is tender and sauce has reduced and thickened.
  3. When cooking time is up, remove the bay leaves and taste your sauce for seasoning. Add a bit of salt or black pepper if needed. You may at this point also add more paprika or hot sauce for heat or a splash of sherry vinegar for freshness and acidity.
  4. Once you’re happy with your result, serve immediately over rice, potatoes, egg noodles or, better yet, mashed potatoes!