Originally, goulash came from the Hungarian plains and the people who raised cattle there. By the 1800s, the pepper-spiked stew made its way into the Viennese kitchen and turned into many variations on a theme. Esterhazy, veal-, salon, and fiaker-gulasch are just a few.
With lean beef and onions as main ingredients, "saftgulasch" is especially popular. The secret is to use at least three-quarters of a pound of onions for every pound of beef.
- 3 1/2 pounds lean beef shank (boneless)
- 2 3/4 pounds onions
- 6 ounces lard (schmalz or oil)
- 3 to 4 tablespoons Hungarian paprika (edelsüß)
- 2 juniper berries (crushed)
- 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
- 1 teaspoon ground caraway
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons flour
Cut the beef into 2-ounce chunks, and peel and cut the onions into long strips.
Heat part of the lard or oil in a large pan or Dutch oven, and brown the meat in batches. Remove to a plate.
Sauté the onions until golden brown in the rest of the oil. Add the ground paprika, juniper berries, marjoram, caraway, sugar, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon of salt, and brown in the oil for a very short time (30 seconds). Do not burn the ground paprika!
Add the tomato paste, garlic, and lemon zest, and stir.
Quickly add the cider vinegar and about 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Add bay leaf, if desired.
Add the brown meat, and braise for 2 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally, and add water as needed.
When the meat is soft, add the rest of the water, and bring back to a boil. Season to taste with salt.
To thicken the sauce, stir the flour together with a little cold water, and add in a thin stream to the stew. Stir until it comes to a boil.