Andrew Jones makes the best goulash (next to the Czech moms and kitchens who have probably been making it for centuries!) and also this great dish called svickova, both of which I dared not try until the Jones left Prague and I was faced with only a few months left of having all the “right” local ingredients on hand. So I did, and actually it’s not hard. I mean, goulash is a stew. Every nation has a version with some mix of vegetables and meat and then some kind of thing that holds it all together and makes a sauce.
The hard part is the dumplings. The German tradition has spatzle, little potato dumplings. And some Europeans like little egg noodles, which I think Hungarians use but I can’t say because I’ve never really had a Hungarian goulash in Hungary. But the Czechs have these awesome and really simple flour dumplings that they make by boiling a loaf-like bread for a while and they come out all soft and chewy and soak up all the last bit of goulash goodness.
So tonight I tried to make the goulash in Texas, which shouldn’t really be that hard because Texas was the point of one of the largest German and Czech immigrations. You can get really authentic sweet Hungarian paprika, essential for a good goulash (sez Andrew and he is right because you can add a ton of it–it adds all the color and flavor of paprika without the intense heat overload). And how can you go wrong with Texas beef? The beef in Prague is much more timid than the healthy tasty big meats here. Well, I’m happy to say that my goulash has made it across the pond and still tastes pretty darn good. But alas, the dumplings sucked. They were rock hard and Derek did his best to be polite, but as I write they have made it into our garden to decorate the edges of the herbs.