Week 54. Hungary. Goulash.

For those reading this blog from overseas, let me paint a picture of London this weekend. It’s bloody freezing. When I teed off yesterday morning it was -3 degrees and when I finished 4 hours later it had peaked at a glorious -1. Late last night it snowed and today we were treated to the rancid phenomena of slush. Our snowfall was rubbish, an inch at best, and today we have all just gone out and squashed it, driven on it and turned it to mush. Tonight it will likely freeze solid and tomorrow morning, at 6:30am and in the dark, I will likely fall on it on my way to work. I will likely soak my suit, bruise my side and swear my entire way to work. I detest snow, unless it is in a suitable location, like a snowfield or on TV. For me it just creates issues. Yes the kids love it and yes it is pretty when you are walking in it when it is coming down, but that’s for such a small moment and then it is just a hassle. I know it is a Sunday night, I’m a bit tired and grumpy, but I’m over it.

I think I am just going to get it all out today and focus on how utterly bored I am of this long winter. Today is Feb 5 and the cold weather started in October. That’s over 100 days since it has been warm. Today my wife questioned why I was looking so pale and suggested I put some tinted moisturizer on my face. What?! I’m pale because my skin last saw warm sun over 100 days ago! I go to work in the dark and out of my window I look at another building through a stretch of 20 feet of outside. This is the only daylight I see for 5 days a week. A grey building lit by dull sunlight which disappears by 4pm. I leave for home at 6:30, again in the dark, to get up again in the dark. Repeat. No wonder people get depressed in Winter!

Anyway, I am an optimist so am looking forward to the days when the sun is out, the snow is gone and it feels like it is never dark. Bring. It . On.

I drew Hungary this week and immediately remembered conversations with two Hungarians who told me “when you draw Hungary you must phone me”. Unfortunately, unless I have made a glaring mistake, I no longer have contact with those people. One being an ex-girlfriend of a friend and one being an ex-workmate.

Apart from being able to do an awesome Hungarian accent, and knowing loads of people who have been to and loved Budapest (it’s on the list of places to visit) I don’t know a lot about Hungary. So – I decided that I would do the best known dish. If you are anything like me, you will have heard of Goulash, but never tried it. I assumed, terribly, that it was a glutinous mass of tasteless stewed vegetables and meat, but that is so far from the truth. Goulash is a stew (which can be watered down to a soup) which is laden with paprika which makes it sweet and smokey. The meat is beef which is slow cooked, adding to the depth of the dish. It is known for being a farmers dish, cooked in one pot over a fire and often to bulk it up potato. When Goulash is made in the home, it seems there are examples of when the potato is not in the dish, but alongside it, and this allows me to cook potatoes in the way I like the very most. Here is the order of my potato eating preference from least to most.

  • Wedged (I can’t stand how they are usually soggy)
  • Roasted (Good for Roast….but not much else)
  • Grated (Hash browns are chavvy and Rosti is a bit middle of the road)
  • Chipped (Skinny are amazing, Fat don’t do it for me)
  • Mashed (With the right dish it doesn’t get much better – if cooked well)
  • Boiled (oh yes – the best)

Boiled potatoes are hardly ever served in the UK. Mainly as it is not 1950 anymore, but they are delicious. They are potatoes as they should be. Not fried, roasted in fat drenched in cream or cooked with bacon. They hold their texture well, absorb sauce and can be light enough to not feel like you are being bloated with starch. I am a massive fan. With goulash they worked perfectly.

Goulash is a great dish. It is far better than its reputation and if you are looking for a hearty stew option, don’t bother with the standard thyme and oregano flavoured version – add in mountains of paprika and give this one a go. I will be doing it this way again many times.

Recipe:

  • 500G Stewing Beef
  • 1 Onion
  • 5 Large Potatoes
  • 4 TBSP Paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp Marjoram
  • 1/2 Tsp  Caraway seeds
  • Water
  • 4 Hours.

In a casserole cook the onions in oil or butter until soft. Add in the beef and brown. Add all the herbs/spices and stir in for 3 mins. Add enough water to cover it and let simmer for 4 hours. Keep adding more water if it dries up. Season at the end to taste.

Boil the potatoes and serve together.

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