Have you ever gotten a whiff of something cooking that brought back an onslaught of memories? For me, one of such dishes is the traditional Czech goulash (guláš). When my dad makes this, the entire house smells like he just raided the spice cabinet. I don’t have his garlic tolerance, and like a true Czech, he will probably complain that my version of goulash is bland (read: merely contain five cloves of garlic, and not an entire head-and-a-half). This is one of the dishes I grew up on and making this goulash is always rather nostalgic for me.
Every part of Czech Republic, and probably every family, has their own favourite recipe and method for cooking traditional Czech goulash. This particular one is super easy and straightforward. It makes amazing leftovers (it tastes even better the next day, if it survives that long) and is so simple to make. I mean, seriously: chop up onions, garlic, beef and tomatoes. Fry onions. Fry garlic. Fry beef. Add everything together. Throw in spices. Let simmer for as long as you can. What more do you want?
Just a word of caution… please don’t be like me and Skype with a friend in the bedroom while the goulash is simmering. An hour later, when you finish your Skype call, the kitchen is filled with smoke. Only then do you remember the goulash on the stove…
Note: Goulash, pot and kitchen were all saved. Goulash was eaten with great relish. I now use a timer when cooking stews.
- 1 kg beef
- 1 kg onions
- 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic*
- 1 tbsp whole peppercorn
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika powder
- 2 tsps spicy paprika powder
- 1 tsp marjoram
- 2 bay leaves
- Beef bouillon or stock cube
- Salt and pepper
- Cooking oil
- *Note: Garlic amount is only limited by your own tolerance level. And your imagination.
- Heat some oil on medium-high heat. Roughly chop up the onions - the smaller the pieces, the faster they will cook through - and mince the garlic. Once the oil is hot enough (a piece of onion will sizzle immediately), add the onions.
- Fry for a few minutes until translucent and then add the garlic.
- Stir occasionally till the onions are softened and the garlic is cooked through.
- In the meantime, cube the beef.
- In a separate pot, heat some oil on medium-high heat and add the beef, fry till browned on all sides.
- Add the onion- garlic mixture and all the spices.
- Fry for a minute (the heat lets the spices' flavours come out more) and add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and beef bouillon, and a cup or two of water.
- Cover and bring to a boil, then uncover and let simmer on low heat for as long as possible, at least 45 minutes, stirring and adding water as needed. The beef chunks should start falling apart. Check for consistency- when you stir, the goulash should stick to the bottom of the pot. Using a pressure cooker makes this process much faster.
- Best served hot, the following day, with a side of dumplings (knedlíky) or potatoes.