Shine Supper Club: Mom's Hungarian Goulash

Homemade Goulash will warm the soul, and make a man fall in love with you.

Thanks to my Hungarian roots, I had the privilege of learning authentic recipes at home, coming from first generation American parents. Although I would have preferred good old American foods like pizza and burgers to all the ethnic foods we ate at home, I now realize how lucky I was to be raised in a home where flavors and spices were provided daily.

My parents taught me the basic recipe for Hungarian Goulash, although I've tweaked the ingredients to better fit my own tastes. To this day, I claim that my version of the staple Hungarian dish is the best you'll ever try (and I'm a picky eater). The best version would be to prepare it in a cauldron over a wood-burning fire, and if you have the right company, you'll be chanting "Attila!" So if you are expecting guests, or want someone to fall in love with you, this recipe will be a good choice.

2 lbs. lean beef cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1 medium onion chopped (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
oil to coat bottom of pan

Saute above ingredients until onion is near falling apart over medium-low heat. Add water if needed so that it doesn't burn. Cover and reduce heat.

Cook for 1 1/2 hours, or until beef can be separated with wooden spoon, stirring and adding water occasionally, (water should cover beef like in a stew).

Then add:

1 tablespoon authentic Hungarian paprika
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 cloves garlic (mashed in garlic press)
1 tsp "Vegeta" seasoning mix (found in international deli), or use beef bouillon
Salt to taste
cracked black pepper (optional)
dash red wine

Continue cooking for another 15 minutes to let flavor set. Best served with crusty European bread, noodles or dumplings, and vinaigrette salad.