My Goulash is based on many Bon Mots, such as “This isn't a goulash it's got carrots in!” and “When you press the meat with your wooden spoon, if it falls apart it is ready ” and another one, “Well if you are drinking red wine with the meal you should have wine in the goulash as well.” This is more a collection of ideas than a full blown recipe.
Felicity Cloake's perfect Goulash gave me the prompt I needed to do my own version of the perfect Goulash.
Firstly the goulash often seemed to have much more liquid than we were used to. This one above has several floating pepers of differing intensity and colour. This photo was taken fairly near the beginning of the cooking process and within a couple of hours that liquid will have reduced by one third.
Secondly I found my self watching the diners picking choice pieces of meat out of the pot and I wondered what the difference was. I was informed that this was a goulash with two different cuts of beef, shin and chuck steak. Those in the know wanted to try both types of meat.
The picture above shows the preparation of several enormous Kotlich during the young farmers day "Triicky Games" they called it.
On another occasion the chefs first cooked all the vegetables slowly in lots of oil/fat and then put them through a manual moulee to puree them. This then became the gravy or stock. No vegetable was visible in that goulash except potatoes. Another "trick" is to put smoked bacon bones in your goulash as it is cooking (as above) this really gives the stock a punchy flavour which I love.
Our friendly neighbour gave us plenty of advice about goulash cooking competitions. This picture shows a row of very competitive gentlemen with their different Kotlich in a competition. You should peel and puree tomatoes to make the juice yourself. You must make you own stock before hand from bones. Any stock granules or cartons of tomato from the shops are not half as good. Apart from our female team there was only one other lady in a competition of over 40 contestants.
At one lunch party we had a goulash with two types of beef and some chopped shoulder of pork as well. This one has become my favourite as the fat from the pork really does add to the deep meaty flavours in the pot. We won the prize for the most enthusiastic competitors at a cooking competition, which was a polite way of saying, "Sorry, your beef goulash and plums did not come up to scratch!"
Here is our delicious beef and plum Goulash at the end of the day. Personally I thought it was the best goulash in the competition.
Over all, My favourite is the mixed meat goulash, cooked as for a normal stew over an open fire. For 4 people you will need 600gm of meat. Yes, fat smoky bacon or lard to fry with the garlic and onions and a few tablespoons of flour and sweet paprika, home made tomato juice, meat stock, spices, s and p, cumin, and potatoes added half way through cooking. Add a few sliced red peppers near the end, cut into rings. Decorate each plate full with a spoonful of sour cream and some chopped herbs when serving. As the dish cooks it looses its red colour and goes brown, so save some of the paprika to add 10 mins before the end as this will restore the lovely deep red colour. If you prefer you can serve your mashed potato on the side instead of cooking in the goulash.
The perfect goulash should be cooked over a camp fire. The smoky aroma is a bonus and it's a real journey back to the roots of the goulash. We are holding a local Kotlich cooking competition which will be judged by James Strawbridge, known for his outdoor cooking on saturday Farm and The Hungry Sailors, on June 12th in South Shropshire. Perhaps I should have asked Felicity Cloake!