Taste Scene

Michael Devlin

If it’s good enough for Hungarian cowboys…

A local man has been asking me for a recipe for the slow cooker since May and now that we’re officially heading towards the long nights, there’s probably no better time.

I’ve honestly lost count of the number of stews I’ve included here over the years; I must be approaching double figures at least. But this is definitely one which hasn’t featured before.

Goulash is a stew or soup originating from the medieval kingdom of Hungary but which now is prevalent across Scandinavia and central Europe – anywhere the temperature tends to get frosty of a winter’s morn.


I’ve only had it on a handful of occasions, the most memorable being a pot of the stuff a fellow student once served up in France. Deep and earthy and really, really satisfying, goulash is possibly the perfect insulation against the cold. It also goes down a bomb with a glass of red wine.

It just dawned on me too, doesn’t it sound like a euphemism for going on the rip?

“Yeah, I’m away on with the lads here. We’re going on the goulash.”

There are infinite versions of goulash out there and they range from dishes based on potatoes, sauerkraut and sour cream to others using beef bones, pork, pasta or kidney beans.

This is my beef version and it’s based on a recipe I received from our photographer, Dave. He, in turn, picked it up from a well-meaning Hungarian at a multi-cultural event. I’ve added in a few extras for the craic. Incidentally, it’s also gluten-free, if that makes any odds.

The word goulash, just so you know, is derived from ‘gulyás’ which means herdsman or cowboy. And if it’s good enough for Hungarian cowboys…

Here goes…


roughly 2lb of braising steak, cut into big chunks
3 tbsps of vegetable oil
1 big onion, chopped
2 big cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 heaped tbsp of hot smoked paprika
pint of good beef stock
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tbsps of tomato puree
tbsp of mixed herbs
tsp of wild flower honey
2 red peppers, both seeded and chopped into chunks
tbsp of Worchestershire sauce
salt and pepper

steamed rice
sour cream

Heat the oil in a frying pan or large casserole dish. And dump in the chunks of meat. Season these with lots of black pepper and a few small pinches of salt. Brown it all over and then dump in the onions, celery and the carrots and sweat for about five or six minutes to take away a little of the rawness.

Add the garlic and stir fry for one more minute.

Sprinkle over the paprika and mixed herbs. Mix through and then add the beef stock, tomatoes, honey, Worchestershire and tomato puree. Mix it all up again with another pinch of salt and pepper and then bring it to a simmer.

At this stage you can either retire the mixture to a slow cooker and let it rip for six or so hours or, retire to a pre-heated oven (140˚C) and let it bubble for about two hours.

If you’re going down the slow cooker route, add the chopped peppers now.

If you’re going down the oven route, give it two hours (lid on) and then add the peppers, mix through and then give it another hour.

Serve up with some basmati rice and a big dollop of sour cream. As the dish exists somewhere between traditional stew and chilli con carne, I might even be tempted to add some grated cheese.

Now you’re going on the goulash!

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