Friday, October 14, 2016

Ivanka's Czech Guláš (about 10-12 servings)

Ivanka's Czech Guláš
I met Ivanka through my friend and neighbor Inge. Ivanka worked with Inge in the airline industry before she retired. However, in her spare time, she has some rental properties and this has been keeping her active. She lives in Colorado and visits New Hampshire annually. On this trip I learned that she left Prague at age 22 and walked all night with her brother to Italy nearly 5 decades ago to escape communism. The walk was dangerous but they made it out of Czechoslovakia without getting shot or arrested. After arriving in Italy the police helped them to various places where they stayed temporarily and eventually they immigrated to New York. Initially life was tough for them but things improved after they had jobs and safe housing...the typical story of many immigrants in the United States. Ivanka and I share some things in common besides escaping communism at a young age. We both enjoy good food, good friends, a passion for travel and a deep appreciation for what we have in life and for an opportunity to accomplish something from nothing.

Ivanka knows I like to experiment with cooking so she graciously gave me a gift bag with bottles of caraway seeds, a kitchen mitt and towel, and a large chocolate bar. She had mentioned that the Czech goulash must have caraway seeds. When I asked her on this trip how she makes her goulash she tells me to fry some onion, sear some meat (either beef or pork) dredged with flour, and add stock--all very vague. Strangely these types of cooking tips sound very familiar! After probing further about her recipe she responds, "yes, add caraway seeds, paprika, salt, and pepper." Her mother had added green peppers and mushrooms to her goulash but that style is not the typical Czech way. She cautions me not to burn the paprika since it will make everything bitter. She always sears her meat to keep it moist and flavorful. She loves lots of spices so she adds jalapeno peppers in her goulash. She tells me you can eat the goulash with anything you want; even baguette or knedlíky (Czech dumplings) as she prefers. Here is my goulash known as guláš in Czech that is totally inspired by my friend Ivanka. Thank you, Ivanka for the cooking advice and gifts!

searing the meat
seared meat
Ivanka's Czech guláš over pasta--YUM!
Ivanka's Czech Guláš (about 10-12 servings)

Ingredients:

About 5-lbs pork, cut into about 1-inch cube, washed and drained
About 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus 1/4 cup
2 large onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 1/2 Tbsp whole caraway seeds
2 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
5  large garlic cloves, chopped (about 2 Tbsp)
60-oz beef broth (unsalted)
Oil (vegetable, canola, corn or whatever you have) for searing meat
2 tsp salt

Method:

1) Spread 3/4 cup of flour onto a plate. Coat the meat into the flour.
2) Heat a large pot (use a cast iron pot if you have one) over medium high heat. Add a little oil. Once the pot is hot line the pot with the flour dredged meat. Do not stack the meat on top of each other. Brown the meat for about 2 minutes on each side. Remove the seared meat. Continue to do this this until all the meat is seared.
3) Add the onions. May turn down the heat a little if the pot is too hot. Cook the onion for about 6 minutes until it is brown but not burned. May add a little oil if needed.
4) Add caraway seeds, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, cumin, and garlic. Saute for about a minute.
5) Add the remaining 1/4 cup flour and any flour leftover on the plate into the pot. May add a little oil if needed. Stir and cook for another minute. Add a little broth and mash the flour a little to prevent clumping.
6) Return the seared meat into the pot. Add the rest of the broth (and more if needed) to submerge the meat. Turn the heat back up. Once the liquid starts to boil turn it down to low. Skim off any impurities or foam that float to the top. Cover the lid and cook for 45 minutes or until the meat is soft.
7) After 45 minutes uncover and let the liquid boils off for another 10-15 minutes to help reduce the liquid a little. Season with salt.

*I did not have time to make the dumplings so for a quick meal it was eaten with pasta.
*I prefer to use unsalted (and all natural) beef stock or broth. This way I can adjust the salt at the end according to my taste. 
*I used "pork butt" in this recipe. I trimmed some of the fat off the meat but not all of them. I like some fat on my meat for flavors. According to Ivanka you can use either pork or beef. The pork was on sale this week and it looked fresh and labeled as "all natural". The pork worked out well. I gave some of my first batch of goulash to Ivanka to sample while she was here and she tells me "it tasted very good". I omitted the cayenne and used water instead of broth (in the first batch). Hopefully the second time around will be much improved!
*This recipe is probably plenty for at least 10-12 servings.

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