South Tyrolean Beef Goulash

Ok, let me admit. When summer is approaching and my husband and I decide in going back to South Tyrol, I start daydreaming about having goulash. I feel like I am not keeping up well with the role of Mom because shouldn't I be thinking of how the kids would love hiking, going on picnics, getting wet in the streams, gathering wild berries or just going squirrel watching? I do think about those but my future goulash meals keep on sneaking in between my thoughts. Sigh. Let it be. I only get to have the real deal delicious goulash dishes once a year when my family and I start our ascent to the northernmost part of Italy. 

South Tyrol is a highly mountainous region at the end of Italy and shares the border with Austria. If I say that the famous Dolomite mountains are in this region, maybe you might know the area. It is one of the autonomous regions in Italy and also one of the richest in the country. Because of its Astro-Bavarian heritage, goulash is one of the traditional dishes in the area. Apart from this, German is spoken by the majority, followed by Italian and lastly, Ladin, a language spoken by the minority. In this region, you will see all the names in both German and Italian and in some towns, a third language which is Ladin.

But tiptoeing back to an important part of their heritage, the South Tyrolean kitchen is very much meat-oriented and not as diverse as the typical Italian cuisine. Being a cold region, the food is on the heavy side. On a personal note, it is one of my favorite regional cuisines because they have straightforward dishes using simple ingredients with tasty and delicious results. Roasted pork and veal shanks, sausages, sauerkraut, apple strudel, sacher torte, vanilla gelato with berries, knodel (bread dumplings), incredible array of cheese, hams, beer, and wine and lastly, goulash. There are a whole lot more to what I wrote but for now these are the ones that I can remember and to be honest the maximum I can handle before I start seriously getting hungry. From my annual summer trips there for the past 15 years, I have somehow learned to put together a pretty decent and almost-there version that I cook at home in winter when the need to have a good plate of goulash with polenta hounds me.

South Tyrolean Beef Goulash
Serves 4
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds beef shoulder, shank or neck, cubed
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 3 bay leaves, torn
  • 120 grams tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or dried marjoram
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (or more) potato starch (or cornstarch)
  • Polenta, for serving (optional)
1. In a large Dutch oven or thick saucepan over medium heat with olive oil, sauté the onions until golden.
2. Stir in the celery, and cook for another 3 minutes.
3. Add the beef, and cook until the juices seep out. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the bell pepper, paprika, garlic, tomatoes and bay leaves, and after 1 minute of tossing, add the broth gradually until it is finished, mixing frequently. Let it boil.
5. Over low heat, let the stew simmer for 2 hours. Cover for the final hour, when the sauce is starting to reduce.
6. Add the marjoram, lemon zest and caraway seeds. Cook for another 15 minutes.
7. Add about 1 tablespoon of the potato starch, adjusting the amount according to the thickness desired.
8. Serve hot on top of freshly cooked polenta.

You can also get the recipe at She Knows where I frequently create recipes. Check out my other recipes at my Profile Page

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