Lamb Goulash

In researching goulash, I came to appreciate that this dish is like chili–not in terms of flavors, but in terms of the heated arguments about how no matter what you’re approach, whatever you’re doing is not authentic and is simply wrong. So since I was clearly doomed to fail from the get go, I figured I might as well take some liberties with it anyways, right? However it’s made though, this stew is just the thing to warm your bones this winter.

Purists would argue that goulash is not a place for tomatoes or peppers and that all such flavor should come from the paprika (since if you didn’t know, unlike most others, this dish is very much about the paprika). I avoided the former but not so much the latter–I enjoy eating peppers more than I enjoy the approval of purists. I also furthered my love of squash by including some butternut squash in the stew. Then there’s the argument over what to add for extra body–whether this stew should be served with potatoes or pasta, and if the latter, is it egg noodles or verimicelli (guess what I chose)?

These nuances aside, the stew is still very much about the lamb and paprika, deriving a tremendous amount of flavor from these two fundamentals. The gaminess of the lamb is also nicely accented by the sweet anise flavor from the caraway seeds and the end result has a surprisingly well-rounded flavor proile (I say surprising because the list of ingredients is actually quite simple when you read through it). Also, I have to point you to the two delicious renditions that inspired me to try goulash (and I hope now you’ll try it, too!).

  • 5 slices bacon
  • 3 lbs lamb shank (I included the bones for flavor and the marrow)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 onion (I had 2 and 1 shallot–shh, my wife wasn’t home!)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 anaheim pepper
  • 1 dried new mexico chili
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 Tbsp paprika (mostly hungarian sweet, some smoked, some spicy)
  • 2 tsp caraway seeds
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 2-3 cups beef stock
  • handful fresh thyme
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1 lb vermicelli

Prep the veggies and lamb

Begin by preparing the veggies and meat. Finely dice the onion, carrot, celery, peppers, and garlic. Also debone the lamb and chop the meat up into 1/2-1 inch cubes. Hang on to the bones for extra flavor!

Brown the lamb and bones

In a dutch oven, cook the bacon and then set it aside. Now season the lamb meat chunks all over with salt and pepper before browning in the bacon grease for 2-3 minutes per side. Work in batches so that you’re not tempted to overcrowd the meat. Brown the bones as well.

Sauté the vegetables

Set the browned meat aside for now and sauté the onion, carrot, celery, and peppers in the grease that remains. After about 8 minutes, add the garlic and sauté for a minute more.

Finally, make a well out of the vegetables so you can see the bottom of your pot and add the paprika Into the oil along with the caraway seeds.

Raise to a boil

Let this sit or a minute before adding in the flour. Let that cook for a moment before stirring it to thicken things up. Then, pour in the stock and whisk it well to incorporate the flour. Add thyme and raise this mixture to a boil.

Return the meat, bones, and bacon crumbles to the pan and let this return to a boil. Cover the pot and transfer to a 350°F oven for about 40 minutes.

Add the cubed squash

While you wait, cube half of a butternut squash. When time is up, scrape the marrow out of the bones and into the stew (you won’t get it all–just do your best), mixing well. Then, add the squash. Stir and cover again, cooking for 20-30 minutes further in the oven (if you think the sauce looks too thin for your liking though, cook uncovered).

The completed stew, fresh out of the oven

While you wait for the stew to finish, all that remains is the vermicelli. Boil that in water per package directions and drain off the water. When the stew is done cooking, skim off any fat on the surface before tossing in the pasta. Mix well and enjoy!

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20 Responses to “Lamb Goulash”

  1. Mary Says:

    This looks amazing! Too bad I’m out of paprika and snowed in. I’m definitely bookmarking it though!

  2. Laurie Constantino Says:

    Oh, I really like the squash in this – it’s such a nice counterpoint for the paprika. I love your attitude – and your food!

  3. Joan Nova Says:

    Loved this line: I enjoy eating peppers more than I enjoy the approval of purists! Your photos, as usual, are just great! Why don’t you consider joining me at one of the destinations on my Culinary Tour Around the World?

  4. nina Says:

    Who the heck cares about the purists, this looks fantastic, Mike.Wow!!!!!

  5. Heather Says:

    yummmm. i love goulash. it is one of my favorite dinners ever. yours looks so delicious!

  6. Kevin Says:

    I like the sound of this lamb and paprika combo and the use of the squash is a nice touch!

  7. Hélène Says:

    Pictures always so good. This looks so yummy!

  8. Sam Says:

    I’ve always used peppers in Goulash, never tried squash before but it sounds amazing! I don’t care what purists say, this looks delicious!

  9. mikky Says:

    looks like a complete meal for me… :)

  10. the caked crusader Says:

    I’ve never seen goulash served with pasta noodles before – I like it!

  11. Joanne at frutto della passione Says:

    Very funny and the reason why I’ve never posted about chilli! I’m not expert on goulash, but that looks and sounds amazing.

  12. Farina Says:

    I love lamb. These goulash looks delicious.

  13. we are never full Says:

    you are very right about goulash and it’s varied authenticity. i’ve never gotten more passionate comments than on my post about goulash. i’d say be careful w/ this post and maybe rename it lamb goulash-ish stew! those hungarians can get pretty frustrated about the authenticity of this dish.

    but i will say, this lamb goulash-ish stew 😉 looks really delicious and i think it’s genius you added the squash! great way to add another depth of flavor!

  14. Peter Says:

    Hmmm, I’ve been to Budapest and tomatoes and peppers were present, so?

    Call this what you will, Mike’s FLA Goulash but it’s making me hungry!

  15. Dragon Says:

    You wouldn’t get any arguments from me. Just requests for seconds and thirds of this lovely dish.

  16. Tartelette Says:

    I just love this Mike!
    BTW, congrats to you both for the upcoming addition! I know it will be a well fed baby!

  17. Terry B Says:

    Wow, Mike. The ingredients alone are a laundry list of delicious. This sounds perfect for the cold weather barreling down on Chicago right now.

  18. Ivy Says:

    That dish makes my mouth water. That lamb is cooked to perfection (it looks so tender and juicy). The sweetness of the pumpkin goes great with it and I love all the ingredients in this dish. Must try it soon.

  19. PBSwine Says:

    The comment “The gaminess of the lamb” is one I’ll never really understand. I’ve eaten most domestic and game meats throughout the world, and in my mind lamb has never been considered gamey. I find it to be a clean flavored meat and in fact there’s not much better then a nice rare rib lamb chop with a touch of salt and perhaps a little pepper to allow the flavor to shine! That being said, this recipe looks delish. Nice work.

  20. Abby Says:

    I made this last week and it was delicious! Great for the last cold snap at the end of winter…I’m in Australia!

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