Austrian Granny’s Goulash

As I described earlier, I spent a year and a half in Austria as a representative for my church. We frequently ate in church members’ homes, and that was always a treat. One elderly woman invited us over often. She used to be “Austria’s queen yodeler” back in the 1940s and did voice-over work in movies. She told the best stories and served the best goulash every time we came over—with apple strudel for dessert. I love this fiery-looking yet mildly flavored sauce mixed with tender bits of slow cooked beef. We usually ate it with egg noodles, but it would be just as delicious over squash noodles or steamed potatoes.

Prep time 25 minutes
Serves 8

2 to 21/2 pounds (900 g to 1.1 kg) beef stew meat, cut into 1/2-inch (1 cm) pieces
2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 to 4 tablespoons (28 to 56 g) Homemade Ghee or bacon drippings
2 red bell peppers, seeded and minced
1 large onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons (21 g) paprika
1 teaspoon hot Hungarian paprika
1 teaspoon caraway seed
3 tablespoons (45 ml) red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons (16 g) tapioca flour
2 tablespoons (60 g) tomato paste
2 to 4 cups (475 to 946 ml) beef broth
Squash Noodles, cooked potatoes, or Cauliflower Rice, for serving

1 Trim any excess fat from the stew meat. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sea salt and the black pepper over the meat. Toss to coat evenly.
2 Heat 2 tablespoons (30 g) of the ghee in a large skillet (preferably stainless-steel or cast-iron) over high heat. Working in two or three batches, add some of the beef chunks to the skillet, not overcrowding the pan. Let them cook, undisturbed, for 3 to 4 minutes. Flip them around and let them cook another 3 to 4 minutes, until golden brown crusts form on a few sides. They do not need to be cooked through. Transfer the seared beef to a 4-quart (3.8 liter) slow cooker, and sear the rest of the meat.
3 Add the minced bell pepper and onion, garlic, both paprikas, caraway seed, and 1 teaspoon sea salt to the slow cooker.
4 In a large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the red wine vinegar, tapioca flour, tomato paste, and 2 cups (475 ml) of beef broth. Pour the liquid mixture into the slow cooker, and give the entire contents a good stir.
5 Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours, until the stew meat is tender. If you’d like to thin the stew and make it more souplike, add another cup or two of beef broth.
6 Taste, and add more salt or a splash of red wine vinegar if necessary.
7 Serve with desired side dish.