During the almost four years I lived in Germany, I had the amazing opportunity to travel all over Europe.
I quickly discovered that all my preconceived notions of fabulous cities overseas were just that, notions. Sure, Paris was awe-inspiring. Where else can you stroll by the Mona Lisa, then take a boat ride down the Seine to Notre Dame and the Eiffel Tower? Rome was thought-provoking with St. Peter’s Square, the Coliseum and Vatican City. London was distinguished and noble. Amsterdam was eclectic and innovative.
However, the city I fell in love with was Budapest.
Budapest, Hungary, straddles the Danube River with “Buda” on one side and “Pest” on the other. When I lived overseas, in the mid-to-late 1990s, Budapest was largely untouched by Western civilization. In fact, I went in 1994 and again in 1996. When I went in 1996, there was a Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Nike store opening just a stone’s throw from one of the historic markets where you could bargain for hand-embroidered linens and pungent paprika near one of the ancient opera houses (which was still in use). It made my heart hurt.
The beauty of Budapest, to me, was that it was untouched by American influence, at least it was then. As always, the food of a particular city, country or region captured my heart. I loved the hearty flavors of Hungarian cuisine.
I found this recipe recently that seems to mimic some of my Hungarian favorites closely.
Try it with russet potatoes, on sale this week at Brookshire’s.
Hungarian Potato Goulash
1 (14 oz) smoked sausage, sliced on the bias into thin medallions
2 Tbsp butter
2 onions, quartered and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, pressed through garlic press
3/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
1 1/2 tsp paprika
6 medium-sized russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into ½-inch thick circles (about 2 3/4 lbs)
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
Place a large, deep, non-stick pan over medium-high heat, and add in about 1 tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add in the smoked sausage medallions, and caramelize them for a few minutes until they become a deep brown color. Remove the sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
To the same pan or pot, add in the butter and allow it to melt. Add in the sliced onions, and caramelize those in the butter and sausage drippings until a rich, golden-brown, about 5-7 minutes. Add in the garlic, a couple pinches of salt, the freshly cracked black pepper and the paprika, and stir to combine with the onions. Sauté just until the garlic becomes aromatic.
Next, add in the sliced potatoes and fold them into the caramelized onions/garlic to coat them well. Add in the chicken stock and stir to combine, then push the sliced potatoes down into the stock/onion mixture as much as possible to allow them to cook evenly. Cover the pan/pot with a lid that is askew to allow some steam to escape, and simmer on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes, stirring gently once or twice during this time. Uncover the pan/pot and allow the potatoes to continue simmering for another 10 minutes, or until they are tender and the sauce is a bit thickened, stirring once or twice during that time. (It’s perfectly fine for some of the potatoes to break up in the sauce as it helps to thicken it, just take care not to break them too much.)
Finish the goulash by adding the caramelized smoked sausage back into the pan/pot, as well as the parsley, and gently fold those in to incorporate. Add a little drizzle of olive oil, and add a couple more pinches of salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve hot with bread, if desired.
Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 663, Calories from Fat: 342, Fat: 38 g, Trans Fat: 0.2 g (13 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 99 mg, Sodium: 1090 mg, Carbohydrates: 55 g, Fiber: 9 g, Sugar: 6 g, Protein: 26 g