If I had more time, I’d make Julia Child’s Coq au Vin (Casserole of Chicken in Red Wine) recipe once a week. I have successfully recreated her Cheese Souffle—a dish I was terrified to cook for guests because at the time I was a newbie in the kitchen and worried it wouldn’t rise. I also treasure her Beef Bourguignon (Beef Stewed in Red Wine) recipe, and there’s no fear factor involved—just lots of steps and waiting around.
Last night I was reminded how good these classic dishes can be, especially when someone else is cooking them. Our friend Dorothy invited us over for dinner and served Goulash, the Hungarian version of beef stew. Dorothy clipped this recipe from a newspaper a few decades ago, cooked it dozens of times and made it her own. It’s less complicated than Beef Bourguignon but equally delicious.
Main dishes go in and out of favor, but few become classics. For a while, Cheese Fondue was a popular entrée. Beef Wellington, which is beef tenderloin wrapped in puff pastry, baked and then cut into thick slices, was once the ultimate power meal. Chicken Tikka Masala recently replaced Fish & Chips as England’s most popular take-out meal.
Today people travel everywhere and discover more exotic fare. Our friend Ken just reported from Zanzibar that he dined on pizza stuffed with beef, veggies and avocado, followed by a giant grilled banana. I’ll have to look for those recipes. Meanwhile, though, I need to get Goulash into my cooking rotation.
Dorothy’s Hungarian Goulash – serves 5-6
2 pounds lean stewing beef
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
2 teaspoons butter + more if needed
2 cups thinly sliced onions
1/2 pound small mushrooms
2 tablespoons flour
5 teaspoons paprika
1 12-ounce (1 1/2 cups) bottle or can beer
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 cup sour cream
12-ounce package cooked egg noodles (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Sprinkle beef with salt and black pepper. Heat oil and butter in a large pot and brown the meat on all sides. Transfer it to a large casserole. Add the onions and mushrooms to the pot and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft. Add a little more butter, if necessary. Add the flour and paprika and stir thoroughly. Add the beer, chicken broth, mustard and caraway seeds, stir and bring to a boil.
Transfer the onion mixture to the casserole and stir to combine with the beef. Cover and bake for 1 3/4 hours. While the casserole is baking, set the sour cream on the counter so it comes to room temperature. Just before serving, stir in the sour cream. Serve with egg noodles, if desired.For more recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"