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Friday, July 12, 2013

Let's Call It Goulash...

Because you know sometimes words have two meanings.
(There's more than one way to goulash.)

A very dear friend of mine offered to do some work on my car for me, which saved me a ton of money.  So to repay him, I offered to make dinner for him and his children.  [I also helped watch the kids, since his wife is out of town.  Because I'm a super awesome friend like that.]  But I had to come up with something kid-friendly.  See, he has 5 kids.  Well, tonight, we were down 2 kids, but also up two neighborhood kids.  (That's still 5.  Math, y'all.)  As one of 5 myself, I tried to think of a dish that I really enjoyed growing up.  When you're feeding 7 people, you need something easy, cheap, and that everyone can agree on.  My mom used to make goulash pretty regularly and I know all of us kids liked it.  Seems easy enough...

Well, here's the thing:  I couldn't remember what went in it.  Elbow macaroni, tomatoes, ground beef... ? So I asked my mom.  But first, I consulted the Google.  Hey! it turns out that goulash is a Hungarian dish, and it's traditionally not much like what I just described.  At all.  It's more of a meat stew which " derives its thickness from tough, well-exercised muscles rich in collagen, which is converted to gelatin during the cooking process."  That's disgusting.  Also, it calls for potatoes rather than pasta, carrots and other soup veggies, egg noodles, etc.  I went with my mom's recipe instead (Wikipedia says that this is the "American" version), adding in a few extras, but keeping the paprika as mentioned in the Hungarian version.

The result: My friend, one of his daughters, and myself each had 3 servings!  All of the kids loved it!  And it was cheap.  I bought all of the ingredients tonight, including the Hungarian paprika, and it cost about $15.  Plus, it fed 6 people (the toddler was sleeping) with a few leftovers, not to mention leftover ingredients to use for another time.  And it took maybe 20 minutes to make (frozen veggies to the rescue!).  All in all, this family-friendly dish was a huge success.

Oh yeah.  I almost forgot to take a picture, we were too busy shoveling food in our mouths.  So here's a shot half-way through my second helping.

1 lb pasta (you can use macaroni; the store was out, so I used corkscrews instead, which the kids- and my friend- got a kick out of)
1 cup diced onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup diced green pepper
1 bag (12 oz) soy crumbles (I used Boca "burger" crumbles)
2 cups corn
15 oz can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
28 oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups tomato sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp Hungarian paprika
Salt and pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and cook pasta according to directions.  While that's going, saute onion and garlic in a large pot for 3 minutes on medium heat.  Add in the pepper and cook for another minute or two. Add in the soy crumbles and corn, and cook for about 10 minutes.  Now stir in the tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, cumin, and paprika.  Continue to cook over medium heat.
At this point, your pasta is probably done.  So drain it, and add it to the saucy pot.  Stir to coat well.  Give it a minute or 5 to allow flavors to combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*A couple of notes about the ingredients:
-You can certainly make this without the soy crumbles, but I wanted it to be like the goulash my mom used to make.  Also, the neighbor kids totally thought it was ground beef.  :)  (My friend's kids are well aware that I'm vegetarian, so they weren't fooled.  But they still liked it!)
-I'm not super positive what makes Hungarian paprika different from not-Hungarian paprika.  I was just trying to be authentic.  Use what you have, I think it'll be fine.
-I would have liked some heat in this, like a dash of cayenne.  I omitted it for the children's sake, but feel free to add some spice if you like.