Dad’s Hungarian Goulash


I was inspired to cook a hardy meal for a friend who spent six weeks in the hospital after suffering from a perforated colon.  She left the hospital weighing 90 lbs having lost 20, and when I asked her what she’d like to eat, she said, “meat – red meat.”

I immediately thought of one of my Dad’s favorite dishes, Hungarian Goulash.  Being Hungarian, it was a dish he often made in the winter and one that that I love but rarely make.  Of course goulash doesn’t have the same mystique of Proust’s madelaines, but it still conjures up childhood memories.  And while I wasn’t able to deliver my goulash with fresh crusty rye bread, it was every bit as delicious and authentic as my Dad’s.

As you might have guessed, my Dad never used a recipe, so neither do I.  I’ve tried my best to construct one for you.  The key, I might add, is to use good quality paprika.  After all, you want to be sure to get the vitamin C found in paprika.  And, did you know, it was Hungarian Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi who is credited with discovering vitamin C in paprika?

Serves 6-8 people



  • Oil
  • 3 ½ – 4 lbs beef chuck cut into cubes (my Dad liked beef shank or shoulder)
  • 3 large yellow onions, chopped (my dad always picked the largest onions)
  • 4 large potatoes, cubed
  • 4-6 carrots, cut in circles
  • Garlic, crushed   (not too much)
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
  • Salt and pepper
  • Water

1. Sauté the chopped onions in oil until they are a nice golden brown.

2.  Sprinkle the onions with the paprika, stirring to prevent the paprika from burning.

3.  Add the beef and sauté until they are a bit brownish in color

4.  Let the beef simmer in its juice and add the crushed garlic, some salt and pepper, pour water enough to cover the content of the pan and let it simmer on low heat for a while, stirring occasionally.

5.  When the meat is half-cooked (approx. 1.5 hrs) add the carrots and potatoes, and more salt if necessary.  You might have to add some more (2-3 cups) water too.  ENJOY.

3 thoughts on “Dad’s Hungarian Goulash

  1. It was a real treat when Dad made this. I remember he would take out the big knife and sharpener and I would watch him. He would cry when cutting up the onions wiping his eyes and forehead. He used the entire kitchen counter moving small appliances aside to make room. Even Mom was not allowed to help . Prior to coming home to make the goulash he would stop at Davis Bakery and buy the best rye bread in Cleveland. He would let it simmer and then we would all sit down to eat the delicious meal. He would usually talk some about how his parents would serve this at their restaurant as well as how his mother was a great baker. A wonderful family memory! Thanks Annice. Oh how he is missed. He would have loved to hear how it came out.

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