Saturday, August 27, 2011

Wolfgang Puck: Gulyás (Beef Goulash)

As a child, when I used to flick through my mother's recipe cards, I always stopped to look at the ones written in a strange handwriting.  The recipes were in metric units, and they were always something foreign-sounding.  Like Gulaschsuppe.  Or Apfelstrudel.  I didn't know it at the time, but they were written by my mother's best friend when she lived in Germany.  These items never appeared on our dinner table that I remember, but I always wondered what they tasted like.  Finally I made some goulash (although not with my mother's recipe card - I'm too lazy to translate metric), and I'm certainly glad I did.  This Hungarian stew has a beautiful depth of flavor and is true comfort food.

Gulyás (Beef Goulash)
From Wolfgang Puck

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground
1½ tablespoons sweet paprika
1 teaspoon hot paprika
2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 cups chicken stock
2½ pounds beef shank, cut into 2-inch cubes**
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the onions and sugar until caramelized. Add the garlic and caraway seed. Cook for 1 minute. Add the sweet and spicy paprika, marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf. Sauté another minute, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste. Deglaze with the vinegar and the stock and add the pieces of beef shank, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until very tender, about 1½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve with spaetzle on the side.

Makes 4 servings

**Note: If you can get beef shank still on the bone, throw those bones in at the same time as the beef cubes.  The marrow from the bones will cook into the stew and make it even more delicious.  Just toss the used bones before serving.  I got 3 (1¼-pound) shank steaks on the bone, and it worked beautifully for this recipe.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe: Dried Porcini and Sage Tagliatelle

This dish is one of those dishes that makes you want to lick the bottom of your bowl like a slob.  And then when all of the creamy goodness in your bowl is gone, you want to lick your dining companion's dish, too.  But that would be...uncomfortable.  So you debate just how far you would go for more of the delicious goodness.  And then you come to a conclusion.  Who cares if your dining companion thinks you're crazy?

Dried Porcini and Sage Tagliatelle
From Italian Easy: Recipes from the London River Cafe by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers

16 ounces egg tagliatelle
1½ ounces dried porcini
8 sage leaves
2 garlic cloves
1 dried chile
1 lemon
2 ounces Parmesan
7 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons heavy cream

Soak the porcini in 1 cup of hot water for 20 minutes.

Peel and finely slice the garlic, chop the sage, and crumble the chile.  Finely grate the peel from ½ the lemon and squeeze all the juice.  Grate the Parmesan.

Drain the porcini, reserving the water.  Rinse the porcini and chop.  Strain the liquid through a cheesecloth.

Melt the butter in a thick-bottomed pan, and add the garlic, sage, and chile.  Color, then add the porcini.  Fry until soft, then add 4 tablespoons of the mushroom liquid and simmer until most of the juice has been absorbed.  Add the cream, lemon zest, and juice, and reduce until the sauce is creamy and thick.  Season.

Cook the tagliatelle in boiling salted water until al dente, then drain.  Add to the sauce, and turn over to coat each ribbon.  Serve with Parmesan.