Our New Year’s Eve party is always themed on somewhere we traveled during the year.
This fall, we enjoyed a wonderful bicycle trip in Slovenia. Slovenia is a small country in the northernmost part of former Yugoslavia, at the crossroads of several cultures. Dishes from Slovenia span several cooking styles including Slavic (Central and East European) and Italian influences.
This wonderful goulash was our main dish on Saturday night and it was a big hit. Our friends brought other eastern European side dishes and we had a memorable meal.
Goulash ingredients - Serves 4-6 (I tripled the recipe for the party)
• 4 thick slices (4 ounces) hickory-smoked bacon, diced
• 1½ pounds lean beef such as round or well-trimmed chuck, cut into 1 to 1½-inch cubes, and dried with paper towels
• 1 cup chopped onion
• 1cup dice green pepper (optional) – (I added the green pepper because that’s the way I remember goulash)
• ½ cup dry red wine
• 1 cup beef or veal stock
• 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in tomato juice – (I used Italian style)
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• 1 tablespoon sweet Hungarian paprika
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
• 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
• 3 cups water
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 cup cornmeal
• 1 tablespoon butter
Chive cream ingredients
• ¼ cup sour cream or yogurt
• ¼ cup cottage cheese, sieved (Next time I make it I may not bother with the cottage cheese or just use ricotta instead –no sieving)
• 2 tablespoons snipped chives
Make the goulash: In a medium skillet, cook the diced bacon over moderate heat until In the same skillet, raise the heat to medium-high and brown the meat(s) well, 6-10 minutes. Remove the meat to a crock-pot or Dutch oven. Drain all but 2 tablespoons fat from the skillet.
In the same skillet, add the chopped onion (and peppers if you use them) and sauté until just turning translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add the wine and reduce over high heat, until almost all of the wine has evaporated. Add the stock, tomato paste, paprika (or substitute), minced garlic, salt, and cayenne. Stir to blend the ingredients.
In a crock-pot: Bring to a simmer and pour into the crock-pot. Cover the crock-pot and turn on to low and cook up to 8 hours or as directed by your appliance.
In a Dutch oven: pour the broth mixture over the bacon and meat. Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, cover, reduce heat to very low and simmer on the stovetop 1½ hours until meat is done.
I simmered it on low for a very long time in the Dutch oven. Both the crock-pot and Dutch oven versions tasted wonderful.
Make the polenta: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Whisk in salt and cornmeal. Cover and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes. Stir in 1-tablespoon butter and keep warm until ready to serve.
I remember Goulash served over noodles, so I also had noodles as a choice. In Slovenia, they often added potatoes or served them along side.
Make the chive cream: In a small bowl, thoroughly mix together the sour cream, cottage cheese, which you have pressed through a sieve, and the snipped chives. Refrigerate until ready to use. May be made up to 1 day ahead.
To serve: Spoon the polenta onto a plate, top with beef goulash. Place a dollop of chive cream on top. Enjoy!