Wednesday, October 5, 2011

G is for Goulash... and Great food.

I am, at this very moment, suffering from a small case of "didn't read the recipe right-itis" in the kitchen.  It's resulting in a bit of a cookie disaster.  So, to save face (and boost my self-esteem before attempting THIS for Thanksgiving weekend), I thought I'd post a recent recipe that worked really, REALLY well.

What with the recent nuptials, I'm now quite flush with some absolutely fantastic kitchen items thanks to the amazing generosity of my family and friends.  My Aunt Marilyn bestowed upon me a most unexpected but incredibly welcome gift: a gorgeous blue Le Creuset oval Dutch oven.  This thing is tops.  Seriously (and Ni tells me she was all stressed out, worried that I wouldn't like it!).  I'm only recently coming to understand the beauty of being able to take an item from the stovetop to the oven, and this piece definitely delivers in that category.  And when not in use, it graces the baking rack/dining room display that I had to commandeer from Hubs to store the overflow of kitchen goodness.  It even matches the décor around here (such as it is)!

There it is... my precious... Right next to the wine cooler from Karm, the brie baker from Deb, and the candles from Aunt Mary Jane!
Alright, enough drooling over crockery.  Many months ago, I bought a large piece of nondescript beef with the idea that I would cook up something nice and slow-roasted for Hubs once he moved out here.  It sat in the back of the freezer for longer than I would have liked.  At long last, I decided to bring the beef out to take it for a spin in the new Dutch oven.

Carrot, beef, and noodle close-up.
Our best man lives out in Alberta, though his parents are still in Windsor.  His dear mum Jane made it to our wedding shower and gave me a fantastic (and heavy!) tome: The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook.  Now I must confess: having access to only Food Network CANADA, I'd never seen an episode of America's Test Kitchen.  Upon reading, though, I could instantly get behind their philosophy of perfecting classic dishes for the home cook with an almost scientific approach.  I read this book before bed now.  I think it'll become a new favourite!

The picture from the cookbook (also from  I think I managed to match it!
I initially wanted to make a pot roast, but realized I had beef eye of round as opposed to chuck roast.  Delicious, yes, but didn't have enough fat for roasting.  Simmering in a paprika sauce, however, seemed more fitting.  So I turned to their Hungarian Beef Stew recipe and adapted it just a touch (given that we're only two people).  You can hit the link above and register on the website for the "original" recipe (the history/background/explanation is free!), or you can see what I did below:

Hungarian Beef Stew
Adapted (barely) from The Complete America's Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook
Serves 4 (or 2 with leftovers for lunch!)
  • 1 boneless eye of round beef roast (about 2 pounds or ~900 grams), trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
  • Table salt
  • 1 12oz. jar roasted red peppers (or if you're like my dad, roast a couple of your own), drained and rinsed, about 1 cup
  • 1/2 cup sweet (not smoked, not hot) paprika, fresh if possible (I bought a new package)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 tsp white vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 4 medium onions, minced (about 4 cups)- I got lazy and just chucked them in the food processor fitted with the blade and whizzed them until well chopped
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup beef broth, warmed
  • Ground black pepper
  • Cooked buttered egg noodles tossed with chopped parsley, for serving (just look at the package directions for your egg noodles, I know you'll figure it out!)
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat to 325ºF.  Sprinkle the meat evenly with 1 tsp salt and let stand for 15 minutes.
  2. Process the roasted peppers, paprika, tomato paste, and 2 tsp of the vinegar in a food processor until smooth, 1-2 minutes, scraping down the sides as needed.
  3. Combine the oil, onions, and 1 tsp salt in a large Dutch oven (yay!); cover and set over medium heat on the stove.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have softened but have not yet begun to brown, 8-10 minutes.  If the onions start to brown, reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in 1 Tbsp water.
  4. Stir in the paprika mixture; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions stick to the bottom of the pan, about 2 minutes.  Add the beef, carrots, and bay leaf; stir until the beef is well-coated.  Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the pot.
  5. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven.  Cook until the meat is almost tender and the surface of the liquid is 1/2 inch below the top of the meat, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes.
  6. Remove the pot from the oven and add enough beef broth that the surface of the liquid is 1/4 inch from the top of the meat (the beef should not be fully submerged).  Return the covered pot to the oven and continue to cook until the meat is fork-tender, about 30 minutes longer
  7. Skim the fat off the surface using a wide spoon (I didn't really have a fat layer to deal with); stir in the remaining teaspoon of vinegar.  Remove the bay leaf, season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve on your delicious buttered egg noodles!
 This made for a really nice Sunday dinner with the dude, which seems to be becoming a new trend.  He takes care of quick weeknight meals, and I enjoy my kitchen time on weekends to serve up some good slow comfort food.  It's really a win-win... hooray for teamwork!

Hoping all goes well with her first gumbo attempt on Saturday (and praying that the dark roux won't burn down the kitchen),

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