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Monday, August 16, 2010

Goulash as I knew it back in Russia was a pretty simple dish cooked of beef with onions and tomato and usually served with pasta. There was a meat dish in Russian diners that also carried a proud name goulash, but was very far from its original  Hungarian recipe. There are two forms of goulash: one is a  soup and another a vegetable stew with sweet peppers and paprika.  Now that I find myself in the abundance of vegetables in season (especially tomatoes and peppers), I couldn't resist the temptation to create my version of this hearty dish last Sunday. I didn't use paprika, instead I used green hot pepper and lots of tomatoes for color.

What you need:
2 lb boneless beef, cut in bite-size pieces
3 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 of red, orange, and green sweet peppers,
cut in 1 inch pieces (or triangles)
Fresh hot pepper to taste, finely sliced
3 cloves garlic, sliced
Butter, 2 tbsp
Black pepper
Freshly dried dill, 2 pinches
1 tbsp sugar
Flour, 2 tsp
Filtered water
Large skillet

Put skillet on medium heat, melt butter,  place meat in one layer. This way it will brown nicely and evenly.
Let the meat brown  (don't overdo this), then add 1/3 of onions and continue to saute until onions become golden, then add 2 of your tomatoes, salt, black pepper, reduce heat to simmer and let the meat cook on low heat until it is very soft, about 1.5 hrs.
While meat is cooking, saute the rest of onions until golden, add the rest of tomatoes, sugar, hot and sweet peppers, garlic, salt, and continue to saute for about 10 minutes on low heat, until sweet peppers are almost soft, but still have some bite left. Add vegetables to meat, add some water (about 1.5 cups), swirl together and let simmer for a couple of minutes. In the end mix flour in 1/2 cup of water until smooth and add to meat constantly stirring, finish with a dash of dry dill. This will make liquid thicker and more of a sauce consistency. Taste for salt and pepper.
Serve in a bowl as a thick soup, with toasts or fresh bread. You can also serve it with pasta. Very yummy both ways!

It is very important to slow cook meat in this recipe. Acidity of tomatoes works wonders on meat, it becomes irresistibly tender and literally melts on one's tongue (it would be impudent of me to say, but it is probably even better than famous Julia Child's Beef Bourguignon :)
Do not ignore sugar, it helps to lower acidic taste of tomatoes and bring up the flavor of other vegetables.
Next time I will also try to use red wine in the first stage of preparation, when sauteing meat with onions, it should add another note to bouquet.
This rich dish accompanied by a glass of good red wine gives you a double pleasure of eating and enjoying the vivid colours of joyful summer on your plate that is worthy to be put on canvas.

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