This is another of those "unwritten recipes"--seriously, it was never written down. I think my Grammie learned it from her mother and made it all her life. There are only 4 ingredients at play here. It's a wonderful example of how simple and delicious home cooking can be when the right techniques are applied. The meat is fall-apart tender, there are tons of mushrooms and onions and the whole thing is covered with a lick-your-plate gravy. It was a staple in Grammie's kitchen and we all enjoyed it many times over the years. Now that she no longer cooks, I wanted to see if I could make it myself. It's the perfect winter meal!
If you're thinking of traditional goulash, filled with potatoes, paprika, caraway seeds and sour cream, think again. This is probably more a beef stew, but when I asked my Grammie about it recently and referred to it as a stew she said, "I never made stew, it was goulash". She not's in great physical shape, but her memory is clean and clear, so Grammie's goulash it is.
According to Grammie, you brown your stew meat in one big pot and into another big pot you heat a bit of oil or butter and brown loads and loads of onions. When that's done you add the browned onion to the meat, put in a lot of mushrooms and add some water, but not too much. Armed with these very "specific" directions, I headed to the store and picked up several large onions, a pound of mushrooms and a large package of stew meat, thinking it couldn't possibly come out the way I remembered it.
But it did!! It was amazing, which leads me to believe that you can't really screw this up as long as you use good ingredients because it was all guesswork. I served it over a bed of egg noodles which was great, but it would also be wonderful with mashed potatoes or rice. And like all good stews the flavor is only gets enhanced by sitting in the fridge a couple of days. It reheats well in the microwave or on the stovetop.
And so a tradition lives on...
Makes about 8 servings
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes; Cook Time: About 3 hours (non-active)
3-4 pounds stew meat
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or butter
4-5 large onions, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, quartered
Salt and pepper to taste
1. In a large pot, over medium heat, brown meat well on all sides. Don't crowd, you will probably have to do this in two batches. Set aside.
2. In another large pot, over medium heat, add oil or butter and cook onions till browned and softened. This took me about 10-12 minutes. Then transfer onions to meat in pot and add mushrooms. Stir together. Then add enough water that it comes up to about 2/3 of the way of the mixture. You don't want to cover the mixture or for it to be entirely submerged in the water. Turn the heat to medium low and set pan top ajar on top of pot, so that some steam is escaping, but the pot is not fully uncovered. (If you think you've added a little too much water, don't worry. I did the first time I made this and just cooked the whole thing with the top off so that more liquid could evaporate.
3. Cook over low heat for about 3 hours or until meat is fall apart tender. Serve over egg noodles, pasta, rice or mashed potatoes.
4. Goulash can be reheated in the microwave or on top of the stove easily. Leftovers keep stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about a week.