Hungarian food and our robust wines have always fascinated people regardless of their background. The mouth-watering Hungarian Beef Goulash has been the topic of conversation around the dinner table for generations. It is made with the most famous Hungarian Red Wine, the earthy Bull’s Blood (Egri Bikaver). Legend has it that Bull’s Blood of the city of Eger (city in Hungary) is well-known for its deep ruby colour and a flavour that complements beef and game, not only to toast with but also to create some of our most famous dishes, including the memorable Beef Goulash, not to be mistaken with Hungarian Goulash Soup.
But first, let me introduce you to some of my country’s other treasures. The most famous Hungarian wine is “Tokaji Aszu”, also known as the “Nectar of the Gods”. It is a quality golden wine. Made in “Tokaj”, which is from a “Protected Designation Origin”. Only wines from ‘Tokaj” can be called “Tokaji”.
Debroi is another delicate, dry Hungarian white wine, wonderful with white meats, fish and fruit salads. It could also be served with light, fruity cakes and pastries. “Szekszardi” is a quality dry red wine that complements red meats, smoked specialties and barbecues. There is another famous Hungarian wine called “Witches Blood”. It is very rare and I personally only found it twice in my lifetime.
Now, let’s learn more about our famous “Bull’s Blood”. Legend has it that, Bull’s Blood got its name from the Ottomans (Turks) during the battle of Eger in 1556. As I mentioned in my previous article Hungary was under Turkish occupation for 150 years. During the battle of Eger, Istvan Dobo, captain of the fortress of “Eger”, gave red wine to his solders to energize them against the Turks.
The Turks asked a spy why the Hungarian warriors had such strength, to which the spy replied what the clever captain rumoured all over town: “They are drinking bull’s blood.” The Turks were so terrified of the bloodthirsty Hungarian warriors, that they gave up fighting for the fortress.
So a legend was born… Even today there are many stories circulating about the Turkish occupation, and I will share with you another story next time. But now let me share with you a recipe that will need the use of Bull’s Blood to give it its unique flavour…
HUNGARIAN BEEF GOULASH
1 large onion, peeled, chopped
3 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
5 slices of any green pepper
5 slices of hot chilli peppers (you may leave it out if you don’t like the heat)
2 cloves of garlic
1 kg (2.2. lb) beef, cut into small cubes (not tiny, about the size of a large grape)
1 cup of Bull’s Blood (or any dry red wine)
1 tablespoon of Hungarian Red Paprika (remember it could be any red paprika but Hungarian is brighter red)
1 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of smoked red paprika (could be left out, not in original recipe)
Wash and cut beef into cubes. Pour olive oil into a large stock pot. Add onion, tomatoes, green peppers, garlic and chilli peppers. Saute for 3-5 minutes, while stirring from time to time. Remove from heat and add red paprika, stir and add 1 cup of water. Place back on burner, add salt, wine and meat. Add enough water to cover meat entirely.
Cook for about 1 1/2 hours, always add enough warm water to cover meat. Only add warm water, because cold water stops the cooking process and will toughen the meat. I don’t like to use warm tap water, instead warm a little water in a small stock pot and leave it on a burner on very low heat. So you have warm water at hand.
Always remember to stir Goulash from time to time to prevent sticking. Check seasoning and meat for tenderness after 1 1/2 hours. Add a little more salt if needed. If meat is tender, cook until meat peaks through liquid.
Remember this is not a soup, but a main dish. The thickness of the liquid should be like a thin gravy. It should not have a lot of liquid.
Hungarian Beef Goulash is always served with boiled potatoes, pickles and red wine, such as our Bull’s Blood.
I never cook with cooking wine, but with good quality wine that I like to serve to my guests when I serve them the finished dish.
Enjoy this and many more recipes that the History rich culinary world has to offer to the world. Learn The Secret of Hungarian Cooking™ and fall in love with the Flavours of Hungary™ one dish at a time.
Helen M. Radics is the sole author of the Treasured Hungarian Family Recipes™ cookbook series /Mom’s Hungarian Heritage Recipes™/ Helen’s Hungarian Rhapsody of Recipes™/ Helen’s Hungarian Heritage Collection ™. Her books are a wonderful collection of Hungarian heritage recipes, passed down for generations on both sides of the author’s families. Her books contain hundreds of time tested recipes, that bring to life the specialities of turn of the century Budapest Cafe Houses, the simple elegance of world famous restaurant dishes, and wonderful comfort foods of every day Hungarian kitchens. wine tours in willamette valley