Friday, February 17, 2012

Beef and Pork Goulash

This week I made both a roast beef and then a roast pork.  The pork roast was a bit larger so I made the stir fry with half of it which left me with just the right amount for a stew with the beef. That's 3 dinners for 2 out of one $7 roast pork. That is keeping my food costs down! I also added onions, carrots, celery, celeriac, white turnip, potatoes, green pepper, mushrooms, beef or chicken stock, red wine, bay leaves, paprika, salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, oregano and chives.  I bought the white turnip because they didn't have any small yellow ones.  I definitely prefer the yellow ones so next time I'll buy yellow and cut it in half. The herbs are all from my sun room. Those 3 are what will grow in mid February at 50ºN on the west coast.

A goulash or stew isn't necessarily a dish you would find at a restaurant but if it's really good you just might. So I don't discriminate against a dish because of it's simplicity or peasant origins.  By restaurant quality I mean primarily taste.  Appearance and texture are also important but it is flavor that will win the diners gratitude. I also try to keep my food costs as low as possible.  When I initially started cooking with purpose I never gave a second thought to food costs. I used to spend about $5 per person per meal for protein and I thought that was pretty good.  Now I spend more on the order of $1 per person and food taste and quality has risen dramatically. It's amazing what a little effort can do!

Back to the goulash, dice up the onion. Cut the meat into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes and put in a plastic bag with a tablespoon or two of flour.  Slice off the outer skin of the celeriac and cube it up into meat sized pieces.  Peel the carrots and turnip and  dice them up along with the  celery.  In a large pot put a tablespoon or more of oil and turn the heat to a bit more than medium. You want to fry the onions to golden brown but not burnt and papery so your experience will tell you what is the best setting for your stove and pot.

Once you have golden onions shake the meat in the bag and take it out by handfuls.  Don't empty the meat bag into the pan because it will have too much flour. The flour coating the meat will quickly soak up the oil in the pan so you have to drizzle more while it's browning. When the meat is browned at least on two sides add the celeriac, turnip, carrot and celery. You want to sweat the vegetables which means cook them till water starts to come out the cut ends or onions to turn translucent, but ours are already brown so just get everything cooking.

When the vegetables are sweating add a cup of beef or chicken stock.  How much stock to use depends on your pot size and the amount of meat you have. Water will continue coming off the vegetables as they cook but you'll also loose some to evaporation. Add an ounce or two of red wine and stir.  You want everything uniformly coated in a thick sauce, if it's soupy leave the lid off to release some moisture. Turn the burner down to medium low so it will gently simmer.

While that is simmering away dice the green pepper and slice the mushrooms, add them to the pot.  Add a tablespoon of paprika and salt and pepper to taste.  I also had some chili sauce in the fridge so I put a bit of that in, anything to add a little heat will work. Give it a stir occasionally so it doesn't burn to the pot bottom.  During the last half hour of cooking add the fresh herbs. Their flavor cooks off quickly so don't put them in too early. Butter a baguette or whatever bread you have and put it in a paper bag in  the oven or toaster oven to warm. Serve on a plate or in a bowl with the warm bread.  Delicious!

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