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Food Network Favorites: Wolfgang's Beef Goulash

Wolfgang Puck is the last chef in Food Network Favorites ! We're starting his chapter off with a very good recipe. This goulash has a great flavor and is pretty simple to put together. The spaetzle that goes with it isn't quite as simple, however.

The flavors of the goulash were excellent, with both spiciness and smoky sweetness coming from the two different types of paprika. Be sure to allow the dish to simmer for the full 1 1/2 hours, so that the beef becomes tender.

Wolfgang Puck calls for freshly toasted and ground caraway seeds in this dish, but doesn't bother to give any helpful hints about preparing them. To toast the seeds, heat them in a pan over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes, or until they become fragrant. Shake the pan often to keep the seeds from scorching. You can grind them in a mortar and pestle or a spice mill. Don't skip this step and use pre-ground seeds from the market; the flavor is infinitely better if you toast the seeds yourself.

The spaetzle batter is very sticky, and trying to force it through the holes of a colander into the boiling water requires some elbow grease. I thought Puck could have done a better job with the instructions for the spaetzle; in his original recipe he merely says to bring salted water to a boil and then force the batter through the holes of a colander. No indications of how much water, how big of a colander, etc. I recommend that you use a metal colander that fits into the top of a large pot. Make sure that there are a couple of inches between the top of the boiling water and the bottom of the colander, otherwise the batter will cook while it's still in the holes. Use a colander with large holes in it, and use all your upper-body strength to smear the batter through the holes. Puck doesn't indicate this, but you'll probably need to do the spaetzle in batches.

Or you can avoid all of that and use a spaetzle maker. If you don't make a lot of spaetzle, you probably won't want to invest in this gadget, but it certainly does make it easier to get the sticky, stretchy dough into the boiling water. In either case, all the effort to cook the spaetzle does pay off; it's the perfect accompaniment to the goulash. Like most soups and stews, this dish is even better the second day, after the flavors have melded overnight.

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: about 2 hours 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups thinly sliced onions
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 Tbsp caraway seeds, toasted and ground (see note above)
1 1/2 Tbsp sweet paprika
1 tsp spicy paprika
2 Tbsp minced fresh marjoram leaves
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
4 cups (1 quart) chicken stock
2 1/2 pounds beef shoulder, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Spaetzle (recipe below)

In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-low to medium heat. Add the onions and sugar and cook until caramelized, about 45 minutes.

Add the garlic and caraway seeds and stir for 1 minute. Add the paprikas, marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf. Sauté for another minute, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste, vinegar, and stock and cook, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, for 1 minute. Add the beef, salt, and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened, about 1 1/2 hours.

Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove bay leaf and discard. Serve the goulash atop the Spaetzle.

4 large egg yolks
1 large egg
1 3/4 cups milk
1 pound all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground white pepper
1/2 cup peanut oil
2 oz. unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
1 Tbsp minced fresh parsley

In a small bowl, beat together the egg yolks, egg, and milk. In a large bowl, combine the flour, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and mix by hand, until just well blended and smooth. Do not overmix. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, making sure that there is space between the water and the bottom of a metal colander that fits on top of the pan. Place the batter in the colander and smear through the holes with a rubber spatula to form the spaetzle. (Alternatively, use a spaetzle maker.) Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until al dente. You may need to cook the spaetzle in 2 or 3 batches. Using a slotted spoon, remove each cooked batch to a bowl of ice water. When cool to the touch, drain well. Stir in half the peanut oil. (At this point the spaetzle can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

To serve, place a large sauté pan over high heat and add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil. Add the spaetzle and sauté until golden. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Toss with butter and parsley.



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