Sweet Hungarian Goulash with Noodles: A Midwestern Variation - The Rising Spoon

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sweet Hungarian Goulash with Noodles: A Midwestern Variation

Sweet Hungarian Goulash with Noodles | www.therisingspoon.com
If you do a quick search for Hungarian Goulash you'll notice that everyone and their great aunt rhonda has a different version of authentic or non-authentic goulash. For the purists out there, look elsewhere. This is an adapted, Americanized version. Someday, I'd like to try a brothy, savory and "authentic" recipe.

Until then, I've nabbed my family's version, which I've replicated for the first time by myself. Tasting the sweet, meaty sauce instantly took me back to my childhood in Kansas. My Aunt Debbie made it for my sister and I growing up. We devoured the goulash every time she served it. But that was only occasionally, so it made sharing the meal together more special.

So when I cooked this goulash a few weeks ago, it transported me 500+ miles away, back to my aunt's dining room in rural Paola, Kansas. Even though I ate my plateful while sitting across from my boyfriend, we sat in silence for the majority of the meal. He wolfed down his portion then retired in front of his computer. I ate slowly, closing my eyes several times. My body coursed with euphoria and nostalgia.

This, my friends, is an ineffable food experience. The feeling is phenomenal. I encourage you to find whatever sensory experience resonates strongest within youwhether it be food, drink, scent, textureand replicate it. My, oh my. Your whole being will vibrate with intense memory.

It's unlikely you'll have the same earth-shattering experience as I did when eating this meal. Nevertheless, it's still delicious, comforting and unique. There aren't many dishes I can think of that combine various savory elements, yet taste subtly sweet. It's not an overpowering, rot-your-teeth-out sweet. That's a good thing (at least in my book)!
Sweet Hungarian Goulash with Noodles
A midwestern take on the classic hungarian dish, this recipe is a savory and sweet comfort-food concoction. Sauteed beef, onions and garlic are simmered in a tomatoey, sweet paprika laden sauce until thickened then served over a bed of hot noodles.
Serves: 4-6

1-2 medium sweet or yellow onions, diced
1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs of grass-fed ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced (add more if you like garlic)
1 1/2 cups of purified water (I recommend reverse osmosis)
3/4 cup of organic ketchup (or a brand without HFCS)
3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of sea salt
1 tablespoon of sweet hungarian paprika (add more for a stronger paprika flavor)
1/2 teaspoon of dry, hot mustard or regular mustard
2 dashes of cayenne pepper
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/4 cup of cold purified water
2 Tablespoons of unbleached flour
1 package of egg noodles or fusilli pasta

Recommended Equipment
cast-iron skillet 
stainless steel stock pot

Heat a large skillet to medium or medium-high and add olive oil. Dice onions and place in pan. Cook until soft about five to six minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking it up into small chunks, until browned through and no pink is left. Mince garlic cloves and mix in, letting it cook for 30 seconds to a minutes. Don't let the garlic burn. Stir in the water, ketchup, Worcestershire, sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, cayenne pepper and tomatoes. Heat to boiling then reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. While the mixture is cooking, boil the water for the pasta and cook according to the package's directions. Shake 1/4 cup of cold water and the flour in a tightly covered container. Stir gradually into beef mixture. Heat to boiling again, stirring constantly. Serve a hefty portion over hot noodles. If there are leftovers, count yourself lucky. This tastes even better the next day, after all the flavors have melded.

Notes & Tips
Once you add in all the ingredients and it has cooked for a few minutes, taste it. From there, add more paprika, ketchup, sugar, etc. to your tasting. If you're like me, you'll add plenty more garlic, onion and paprika, plus a touch more sugar. Or, if you're worried about a specific ingredient overpowering the dish, halve the amount and go from there. Adjust seasonings to your liking!

For a more authentic, slow-cooked recipe, use beef cut for stew (like chuck or round) cut into 1-inch pieces. Make sure to drain the fat from the beef cubes once they are browned. Proceed with the rest of the directions, but cook on medium-low to low for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. If you have the extra time, this will yield tender cuts of meat that will make the dish heartier.

Real Food Resources

Real Food Survival Guide For Busy Moms

"This e-book is perfect for busy folks who need help maximizing their time in the kitchen so they can fix nutritious, real food snacks and meals to eat at home and on the go. In addition to realistic advice, this book provides recipes for real food staples you can make in bulk ahead of time, which ensures you always have nutrient dense foods at hand. And it’s especially helpful if you’re interested in implementing homemade fermented foods into your diet."

From Scratch: Easy Recipes for Traditionally Prepared Whole-Food Dishes 

"If you're looking for a cookbook that is as entertaining as it is delicious, then look no further. From Scratch is a breath of fresh air when it comes to learning how to traditionally prepare and cook nutritious food. Shaye does not disappoint in her recipes and this cookbook reads like a letter from a close friend. These meals are easily prepared and yes, easily devoured."

Question for DiscussionWhat food reminds you most of home?

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Elaina Newton is the creator, writer, and foodie behind the blog, The Rising Spoon. She's a self-taught cook and passionate about spreading basic cooking skills and information about real foods. She loves reading fiction, crafting, video games, dark roast coffee, cats, and rainy days. Connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook, Google +, and Twitter


  1. Your site looks very nice, I like it. Keep at it and stay on Google+ and post your recipes there and connect with other Google plussers. I just subscribed to you posts. Cheers!!

  2. This was so good, thanks!