Eating: Croatian Goulash


Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity.  ~Voltaire

I love food. You wouldn’t necessarily know that if you went solely by my blog postings. I rarely blog about food. Well, that’s about to change.

I’m not going to make my blog only about food – there are others that do a great job of that and they can be found in my links. But given that I make it a rule to enjoy the finer things in life, I’m going to start sharing them with you. And nothing can be finer on a cold winter’s day than goulash.

My mother has made this dish for as long as I can remember. Derived from the well-known Hungarian variety, the Croatian goulash (gulaš) is more of a sauce served over pasta, gnocchi or polenta. We’ve always had it over pasta, with some hard goat’s cheese grated on top. I started making goulash years ago, but can never truly replicate my mother’s recipe. Perhaps it’s because she seasons it differently each time. As the beef and onions are cooking, and before the tomato sauce is added, she takes every single jar of spice from the cupboard and adds a pinch from each in the pot. We’re talking Italian seasoning, paprika, salt seasoning, Vegeta, Mrs. Dash and god knows what else. I’ve tried my own blend of spices but it never comes out like hers. I think the secret lies in the haphazardness of it all.

So, I cheat. Instead of adding spices, I add prepared tomato sauce. My preferred brand is Olivieri’s Arrabiatta Sauce but any other brand will do. I like arrabbiata because it gives it a little kick. (Recipe below.)

Croatian Goulash

1 tablespoon of olive oil

500 g (1 lb) of stewing beef

1 medium onion, finely chopped

(Every time I chop up vegetables, I’m reminded of the Anal Retentive Chef skits on Saturday Night Live: “People try to tell you that the secret to Pepper Steak is the seasoning – but we know differently, don’t we? Uh-huh. It’s getting all the pieces the same size.” God, how I miss Phil Hartman.)

2-3 cups of tomato sauce (arrabbiata sauce, preferably)

Grated cheese

  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook until lightly brown. Stir in onions and cook until they’re tender.
  • Add tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Turn down heat, cover and let simmer for approx. two hours, or until meat is tender. Stir occasionally and add water if the consistency is too thick. You’ll notice the sauce takes on some of the flavour from the meat.
  • Pour over pasta. White pasta. No whole-wheat pasta or brown-rice pasta. If you’re eating goulash, you might as well go for broke. I like using rotini – the sauce gets into the spirals. Nom.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top. Enjoy!

It makes 4 to 6 cups.

Dobar tek! (Bon appetit!)


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