This is the Czech version of goulash, as served at the Tábor Restaurant in Portland, Oregon, modified by Ditalini. Traditionally it is served with dumplings, which I’ll include in the recipe, but we serve it with pasta, as shown. The recipe will serve four.
In a large bowl mix 1 cup flour with yeast, whisk in milk, let rest 1 hour.
Mix in beaten eggs and gradually add remaining flour. Knead, adding flour or milk if needed. Dough is ready when it’s elastic and doesn’t stick to your hands. Roll dough into two 10″ long, 2″ thick loaves. Let rest 1 1/2 hours, until doubled in size.
Fill a large stockpot 3/4 full of water, add 1 tsp salt, bring to boil. Place both loaves in the pot, bring to boil again, reduce heat to medium, cover and cook about 13 minutes. Take dumpling loaves from pot, pierce sides a few times to keep them from ballooning up, slice into 1/2″ wide dumplings.
Heat 3 tbsp oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add onions and cook about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Increase heat to medium high, add 2 tbsp oil, brown meat. Return onions to pot, add the garlic, and cook for a minute. Stir in paprika and tomato paste, cook for 30 seconds, add remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until beef is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. When cooked, thicken to desired consistency by whisking in small amounts of pre-mixed water and flour, then simmer 5 more minutes.
As you can see, preparing dumplings is a lot of work. Since goulash is traditionally served either with dumplings or pasta, we chose the easier option. We also served it with bread, the better for mopping up the delicious gravy. I think the goulash would be very good with beer substituting for half the beef stock, and Ditalini thinks it would lend itself to crockpot cooking. One last thing: be sure to cut the meat into large chunks, a technique we learned from Julia Child, who said when you cut your meat too small and it cooks down, visually you may as well be eating cat food … cut your beef so that it shows!