Lashings of goulash

Veal goulash with Hungarian gnocchi

Hello Hungary.

And hello Gulyás, my old friend.

Yip. It’s goulash, a national dish of Hungary whose origin can be traced back to herdsmen in the 9th century. Indeed the word gulyás means herdsman. There are many variations of this dish across central Europe. The Hungarian Gulyás is a thinner stew compared to the Austrian Gulasch. I’m used to seeing it made with beef shin and neck. This one is Goulash de Veau et Gnocchi Hongrois—made with veal shoulder. Dora told me it’s “supreme”. It was certainly mighty tasty. And it used my favourite herb—marjoram.

A quick note. Paprika isn’t like other spices that can be toasted in a hot dry pan. It burns easily. In this dish the sweet and hot paprikas were added and brought to life when cooking out the tomato paste.

Something else. Because it’s a one-pot wonder you only get one shot to make the perfect goulash. So it’s important not to contaminate the stew. Keep the sides of the pan clean. Any build up on the sides of the pan can burn and fall into the liquid giving it a bitter taste.

Margarine. A blast from the past. In the gnocchi.

Potato was roasted in the oven and the pulp riced, twice. You want a flowery potato for this. Red Désirée potatoes are perfect. King Edwards are an alternative. The margarine was folded in with an egg yolk. Then the flour incorporated. The dough was rolled into a sausage, chopped to size then each piece moulded into shape. The gnocchi were dropped into hot water then refreshed and later fried golden in clarified butter. Nom.

Chef also prepared Boeuf Tartare in the demo. I do like tartare, especially when it’s slightly spicy and served with a confit egg yolk. A slab of beef skirt was trimmed and finely diced, then dressed with Dijon mustard, egg yolk, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, and mixed with chopped gherkins, shallot, capers and parsley. I’ve always been curious about how tartare is prepared. I believe regulations in the UK are strict but I don’t know the details. I know Hawksmoor eventually took it off their menu because it became too painful to bother. One way to prepare tartare is to first sear the meat, killing bacteria typically living it up on the surfaces. The sear is then cut away and discarded leaving clean raw meat for the dish. In this recipe, the meat was essentially cured by the dressing and not seared.

Tartare of beef

The tartare was served with melba toast. Here’s a tip to get it tissue thin. After cutting a slice of toast horizontally you’re left with 2 pieces each with a toasted face and an untoasted face. Rub that doughy side against the board in a sort of “wax on, wax off” motion, if you know Karate Kid. This balls up all the dough and separates it from the toasted face. You can then toast the second side and watch the melba curl.