I know my northern hemisphere friends are just gonna tell me to man up down under because our winters are nothing compared to theirs. But man alive, help me! I don’t do cold well at all. Temperatures have plunged and immediately I went nuts and pilfered my wardrobe to see how many clothes I could pile on myself before I collapsed from heat stroke. Wearing 3 pairs of socks; yup totally over the top.
It’s also the time when I need heat and fire in my belly. I ain’t going to lie, I’m totally boring and predictable because straight away my body ached for some type of stew, soup or broth and I was stuck on auto pilot. If I ever was to open up a food establishment, it would most definitely be a soup kitchen. I can’t get enough of it.
Goulash is a Hungarian dish that I’ve always been in love with but my first cooking experience with it involved, er, instant sauce packets (my bad!). Since then, I made a point to learn it when I saw the light of cooking from scratch. I just fell head over heels for it and it sparked my lust for paprika. I have pounds of the stuff at home; spicy, mild, sweet, smoked, Hungarian and Spanish. It’s my scarlet muse in the kitchen.
I’ve always kept my goulash stews rustic, choosing a more simple approach with just the meat, veges, stock and paprika. This time round, inspired by a round of cookbook porning, I’m making a soup version with a bit more frills; extra herbs, red peppers to boost the paprika and red wine for therapy (and just because everything is made better with wine, amen).
I’ve also had a heap of leftover parsley and after vowing not to waste anything, I made a sort of minimalistic salsa verde by grinding it up with garlic, sea salt, pepper and enough oil to make a paste. I then used this to finish off my soup along with creme fraiche. Definitely an alternative to merely garnishing the soup with freshly plucked leaves (because frankly, I couldn’t be arsed picking and chopping the stalks into oblivion). By the way, this paste would also be fantastic to mix in with some farfalle or orecchiette for a lazy pasta meal.
This is everything a winter dish should be; a bit of brawn, wine and a bit of fire. Perfect for the shivering frosty drama queens of Sydney’s west ;)
2 Tbl olive oil
500g beef shin or shank, diced into 1.5 cubes
2 rashers of middle bacon, diced
2 small brown onions, finely diced
4 cloves of garlic, finely diced
1 large red capsicum (red pepper), deseeded and finely chopped into 1cm cubes
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes
1 Tbl of sweet red paprika (preferably Hungarian)
1.5 Tbl smoked paprika
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 x 140g tub of concentrated tomato purée
250ml red wine
3 bay leaves
1 L beef stock
Crème Fraiche or sour cream to serve
In a pot, heat up the olive oil over medium-high heat, then brown the beef in batches until golden. Remove each batch with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the bacon and sauté for a few minutes until slightly crispy. Remove from pot and set aside.
Add the onions, garlic, capsicum and carrot and stir to coat in the fat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover with lid and sweat the veges for about 5 minutes until slightly softened.
Remove the lid, increase heat and push aside the veges. Add the paprika, cayenne pepper and caraway directly onto the hot fat at the bottom of the pot and ‘toast’ the spices for about 10 seconds. Add the tomato purée then stir to combine.
Deglaze with the red wine and bring to a boil. Return the beef (plus juices) and bacon to the pot then add the bay leaves, beef stock and water.
Bring to the boil then reduce heat to low. Gently simmer for about 1.5 hours skimming the surface of foam occasionally until the beef is melt-in-your-mouth tender.
Check for seasonings and adjust with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Serve with a dollop of parsley paste, crème fraiche or sour cream if you wish.
Note: To make the parsley paste, roughly chop up a bunch of parsley and place in a food processor along with 2-3 peeled cloves of garlic (feel free to adjust to taste). Add a good large pinch of sea salt and ground black pepper and process. Add enough olive oil gradually until you have a paste consistency. Store in a clean jar in the fridge.
Adapted from Snowflakes and Schnapps by Jane Lawson.