This is a modification of my mother’s circa 1960 recipe for Hungarian Goulash that one of her Scottish friends gave to her while my mother was living in Edinburgh. I have no idea whether the friend was Hungarian, probably not. So this is really Scottish Goulash, which I hear is all the rage. We spend some time in Utah skiing every winter. I find cooking at altitude a challenge. I have recently discovered the supreme joy of using a slow cooker at altitude. Everything loses liquid at altitude too quickly making things dry out before they are completely cooked. Trying to cook something slowly in the oven never works for me. Plunking something in the slow cooker in the morning, skiing all day, and returning to find the food cooked perfectly is an absolute delight. Even if you aren’t at altitude, slow cookers are experiencing a bit of a renaissance. They are a big help for working parents who want to prep something in the morning and leave it cooking all day.
Slow Cooker Hungarian Goulash (serves 6)
- 2 ½ lbs tri tip steak, cut into 1 ½ inch cubes
- ½ cup flour
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil
- 1 ½ large onions, quartered
- 4 carrots, coarsely chopped
- 6 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
- One 10-oz jar red pepper tapenade or roasted red peppers, chopped (I use Trader Joe’s red pepper/artichoke tapenade)
- One 32-oz box organic beef broth
- ½ cup red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
Place the flour, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Toss the beef in the flour. Heat the oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add the beef cubes and cook them until they are brown on all sides (you’ll need to toss them frequently). Remove from the pan and place in the slow cooker. Add the onions to the pan and sauté them over medium heat until they are lightly browned (5-8 minutes). Add the red pepper tapenade or the roasted red peppers, the broth, wine, bay leaf and caraway seeds. Bring to a boil for three minutes.
Add the carrots and celery to the slow cooker. Pour the broth/onion mixture over the top. Cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. At the end of the cooking cycle taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve over noodles or toasted rustic bread. If you like a thicker sauce, at the end of the slow cooker cooking cycle use a ladle and remove the broth from the pot. Place the broth in a 2-quart pot on your stove. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. This will thicken the sauce considerably. Return to the slow cooker and then serve.
*One other modification is possible but not required. If you are cooking this on a weekend, or on a day when you’ll be around – I like to turn my slow cooker on high for the first hour and then turn it down to low for the remaining cooking time. I think the outcome is slightly better. If you won’t be home, don’t worry about it.