Goulash is one of those dishes that deserve to represent a nation’s cooking. And paprika and sour cream are one of those combinations where you couldn’t find better partners for either, and the addition of caraway, another of Hungary’s favourite flavours, in the pasta along with a few poppy seeds argues a vigorous case for goulash to be included in the list of the world’s great dishes. Here I am using oxtail to celebrate the virtue of the beef bone – you can, of course, use stewing beef or veal, but the sauce won’t be quite as rich. It’s important to use really fresh paprika.
In a large stainless-steel or enamel pan, brown the meat on all sides in the fat for about 10 minutes. Remove to a bowl, add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes. Replace the meat and add all the other ingredients except the sour cream. Cover, bring to a simmer and cook over very low heat, or in a low oven, for about 2½ hours. Pour the cooking liquid though a sieve into another pan and skim off the fat as you bring it back to the boil. Reduce to sauce consistency (thicken with a little cornflour if you wish, but the gelatine from the tail should give the sauce enough body). Check the seasoning and tip the meat into a warm serving dish. Cover with the sauce and just stir in the sour cream, to contrast it with the warm red of the paprika. Serve with the caraway noodles.
© 2001 Stephen Bull. All rights reserved.