This is a slow cooker Goulash with a Tropical twist, hence the addition of my homemade Mango Chutney, and why not? There is no standard Goulash recipe. I have called this recipe a Goulash because by one definition it is a thick meat stew, first made by Hungarian cattle herders and stockmen. The Hungarians call it gulyas, meaning herdsman. Although Goulash is traditionally attributed to the Hungarians, the versatile ingredients of the goulash have evolved over the years in various caountries. Paprika, now considered as one of the basic ingredients, wasn't introduced to the Old World until the 16th Century. Sauerkraut and sour cream are often used instead of potatoes as a side dish, although potatoes can be good as a thickening agent instead of flour, and tomatoes only started to be added in the twentieth century. Garlic, caraway seed (which is in my homemade Sauerkraut), capsicum and wine are also considered to be optional ingredients in a goulash. Experiment with ingredients, and if you like it a bit hot and spicy, add some chilli paste. The variations are endless.
The wet and much cooler weather which we are experiencing at present brings out the best in me in the kitchen and I was in the mood for comfort food and some experimenting. I started with my basic Beef stew recipe, however I went a little bit more upmarket as I decided to brown off the meat and deglaze the pan with red wine, the correct and most flavoursome way of making a Beef Stew and went from there. A delicious Goulash evolved.
1.5-2 kg beef chuck or blade steak, cut into large cubes
2 chopped onions, I used one red and one brown (2 brown would be fine)
2 French shallots from my garden (optional)
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons Mango Chutney, for recipe click here
1 cup Sauerkraut (I used my basic Sauerkraut recipe which has Caraway seeds in it)
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 fresh ripe Roma tomatoes or 1x400g can tomatoes
1 cup beef stock
2 tablespoons chopped oregano
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley for serving
2 chopped carrots
3 stalks of finely chopped celery
Chop the beef into large cubes no smaller than 3 cm in size. Toss them in flour seasoned with salt and pepper, and coat well. Add 2 teaspoons of paprika to the flour if you wish, for a traditional Goulash.
Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a stainless steel or cast iron frying pan and fry in small batches until browned on both sides. Add more oil if necessary. Transfer the meat to a plate when browned.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan and lightly saute the onions until softened. Add the onions to the bowl of your slow cooker.
Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping all of the bits from base as the wine simmers. Add the tomatoes, stock, oregano, mango chutney and bay leaves.
Transfer this mixture, and the sauerkraut to the slow cooker. Add the meat and stir everything to combine, and cook on high for 3-4 hours depending on your slow cooker, or on slow for 6-8 minutes. Cooking this dish in a casserole in the oven is also possible. Just press a piece of baking paper over the contents and cover with the lid. Cook in the oven undisturbed, for 1 1/2 hours. Taste it and add more seasoning if necessary. Check if the meat is tender and cook for a bit longer if necessary.
For an authentic Hungarian, Polish and Eastern European experience, if we have friends over for dinner, I would serve with chopped parsley, and a bowl of yoghurt, some sliced pickled dill cucumbers, and some dill potatoes. My lovely Polish friend Irena would enjoy this.
(However, this recipe is very versatile, and can also be served simply at home with elbow pasta, beans, salad, mashed potato or green vegetables. Or just with sourdough toast to mop up the juices, for an easy Sunday night dinner. This is how Mr. HRK loves to eat it, he reckons that by Sunday night we have eaten enough vegetables during the week. Use whatever you have on hand and enjoy eating.)
Another quick sauerkraut idea:
A great advantage of cooking from scratch in my kitchen is that my refrigerator holds a wide variety of chutneys, pickles, jams and sauerkraut, sometimes in half full bottles. Talking of experimenting, we have discovered that we enjoy the tropical taste sensation of grilled cheese on homemade sourdough toast with hidden layers of lightly spread homemade mango chutney and homemade sauerkraut, and with mashed banana spread straight onto the toast as a base, it is a brunch to die for. Do you think that is a weird combination? Give it a try and I think you will enjoy it. Let me know.