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Goulash: confirm please

5 years ago

Tell me goulash was NOT just an Iowa thing.


And it's NOT American chop suey.


We had it a lot growing up. That and ... hot dish.


Dave

Comments (56)

  • 5 years ago

    If you do a search, you will find American Goulash and Hungarian Goulash-both are called goulash, just different names and dishes.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    I'm sure it's regional, and not just limited to Iowa. Call it whatever you want, but if you ask for goulash in rural Michigan, you're going to get the macaroni dish. Same as if you ask for American chop suey in New England. Straight from wikipedia, it seems that "American goulash" has been around for over 100 years, definitely nothing new, even if it's unknown in other parts of the country.

    "American goulash, sometimes called slumgullion, is an American comfort food dish, similar to American chop suey.

    American goulash is usually referred to in the midwestern and southern United States as simply "goulash". As a descendant, of sorts, of Hungarian goulash, the only real connection seems to be the name, and the inclusion of beef and paprika

    History and typical preparation

    American goulash, mentioned in cookbooks since at least 1914, exists in a number of variant recipes. Originally a dish of seasoned beef, core ingredients of American goulash now usually include various kinds of pasta, usually macaroni or egg noodles, ground beef cooked with any number of aromatics, usually onions and garlic, along with tomatoes of some sort, whether canned tomatoes (whole, diced, or crushed are all common variants), tomato sauce, and/or tomato paste. Cheese, melted into the dish during the cooking process, can be added as well. It is usually served as a simple lunch or supper dish, usually the main (or only) course.

    Its versatility and popularity lie in its ease of preparation (it requires only one pot to prepare) and its use of relatively few common, inexpensive ingredients."

    A quick check with "Larousse", the food encyclopedia, and they say goulash is onions and beef, cooked in tomatoes until tender, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. Add potatoes at the end and cook until potatoes are cooked through.

    So, other than macaroni in place of the potatoes, and the paprika which may or may not be used in "our" goulash, they are actually similar. Also, according to "LaRousse", a casserole is not actually the food in the dish, it's the baking/cooking vessel itself.

    Annie

  • 5 years ago

    My mother and her family all came to the states from London. They loved their goulash which was hamburger, elbows, canned tomatoes, tomato juice, s&p and a sprinkle of sugar. Don't know if it was a European thing or where my family came up with this. I've made it many times because for some reason my adult kids and grands all love it. I mean they really love it and could eat it 3times a day for a week.

    I remember my two elderly aunt's bickering back and forth...one saying its goulash the other insisting its called hunky dish. LOL.

  • 5 years ago

    Apparently both of Mamapinky's aunts were right. There is a recipe called hunky goulash. But apparently no hunks were really added unless you're talking about tomato hunks. ;).

    I'm in Canada and we made this quite frequently as well. When we wanted real goulash we'd go across the street to our Hungarian neighbors. They always added shredded cabbage to theirs. It did taste different but similar.

    https://www.justapinch.com/recipes/main-course/pasta/hunky-goulash.html

  • 5 years ago

    Big eye opener. I think maybe I read about this in CF before but it didn't stick. Totally foreign. OTOH, my mother once in awhile made goulash, the European stew, no tomatoes IIRC. More often, she'd make a shepard or Irish style stew, which did have tomatoes. Perhaps goulash was for when she didn't have any. She also made paprikash occasionally. I've never made either, but I think I have a new project. :)

    Come to think of it, when my father got tired of calling reinvented leftovers ragout, he sometimes said goulash.

    I'm sure that Midwest meat and pasta dish must have been seen in California. We have a whole enclave that was mostly just of people from Iowa about an hour away.

    This is the very first time I've heard of "American Chop Suey". I looked it up in Wikipedia. This makes me laugh because chop suey is American. I read in a food history column in the paper that the name is actually based on a Chinese name. Just now I found out that that meant "leftovers" or something. In which case, I guess the American Chop Suey could be made of leftovers of "American" food, and therefore makes sense. :)

    Maybe it's just because it's late, but I'm mightily amused. And getting excited about making paprikash...

  • 5 years ago

    We had Goulash but not ChopSuey (miscellaneous leftovers).

    EasternShore, Chesapeake Bay Area. My Grandmother had a diner for about ten years in the 60's. She was a super cook, all from scratch. She did not have the diner menu we see today...not hundreds of choices but good Southern home cooking.

    Her chili, goulash, and spaghetti sauce all started in one big pot. Ground beef, tiny cubed beef, finely diced celery, carrot, onion. Crushed tomato. She added some chicken stock, (a shame I don't have any of her recipes) but my mother continued the tradition. Wonderful soups she made. Always chicken and rice or noodle. And some special soup each day mon-fri. Closed weekends.

    Her basic meat sauce was divided into three pots and seasoned differently, adding beans and spices to her chili, probably paprika to her Goulash, and probably tom paste to her spaghetti sauce since it was always thick.

    Goulash was always short curly egg noodles and lots of seasonal vegetables. Zucchini, corn, peas, limas....but not sure what she used to make it so dark. I'm guessing some sort of dark beef stock maybe.

    I was in 1st or 2nd grade when she retired and expanded her kitchen to accommodate the big glass front double door commercial fridge from the diner.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Looking for inspiration for Oktoberfest, I’ve seen several references to Goulash being a traditional German food. Which explains why I had it so much growing up. This site describes a history of goulash, including some variations from Hungarian: “Never Frenchify it with wine. Never Germanize it with brown sauce.” My mom’s definitely had a dark brown sauce. I do wonder how much paprika she uses. I’d have to think she at least sprinkles some in, but probably not the multiple teaspoons or tablespoons called for in most recipes.

    It wasn’t until college years, cafeteria food I believe, that I became aware of a ground meat and tomato based concoction called goulash. And not until I was working in Boston that I ever heard of American Chop Suey. And those are probably about my only exposure to either.

  • 5 years ago

    Growing up Goulash was a concoction of macaroni, ground beef and tomatoes, no paprika and not spicy at all. After I married, MIL was German and she made Goulash with stew beef, paprika (not the spicy Hungarian kind), and beef/tomato sauce. Then later I went to a German restaurant and their Goulash was spicy (like the spicy Hungarian paprika kind) with a brown sauce not in any way like my German MIL made. So I'm confused. When I make it I make it like my MIL did but instead of the sweet paprika I use the spicy kind. I guess it's what you personally like that matters on this one.

  • 5 years ago

    FWIW, my parents were both from upstate NY, so the macaroni goulash is definitely not just a midwestern thing.

  • 5 years ago

    Sounds like Johnny Marzetti. Haven't had it since I was a kid.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Marzetti

  • 5 years ago

    Cindy, our school cafeteria used to make Johnny Marzetti. It was very much like goulash, but had added cheese baked on top.

    I always figured it was just fast farm/depression type food, or something to fill a lot of empty stomachs using just a little meat and a lot of other cheap and available ingredients. My Dad used to like it with just the macaroni and a quart of home canned tomatoes, salt and pepper but no meat at all. My brother sprinkles sugar on top of his, as does my mother, which may be the London connection mamapinky talks about.

    Oddly enough, my Dad's family came from Canada, north of Toronto. Elery was born in Kentucky, lived in Tennessee, then moved to southern Michigan. He also grew up eating just macaroni and tomatoes with salt and pepper but no meat. Again, maybe that was a depression dish or a farm concoction for the summer when tomatoes were plentiful but butchering time was still a couple of months away and meat was getting low.

    Annie

  • 5 years ago

    I know my grandmother from California (and I am in my very seniors years) made the following; browned ground beef, diced onion, diced green pepper, a large can of crushed tomatoes, a can of tomato sauce, stirred it all well then added macaroni and let it cook.

    When I lived in Georgia and Alabama the same type dish was made, as well as in Texas.

    Don't believe it is a regional thing at all, but a nationwide American thing.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    My Dad used to make something when he and Mom were low on money at the end of the month (they both got paid on the first). He called it goulash. Fifty years later, I am wanting to make it for the grandkids. I found it in Cook's Illustrated as "Chop Suey". Same stuff. I called it Hamburger Macaroni for the grandkids.

    While I was searching for a recipe, I found the same, or almost the same thing all over the country, Goulash, Chop suey, or Johnny Marzetti. It seemed to be the name was associated with the area of the country. The basic was hamburger, onion, tomato in some form, and macaroni. Then, bell pepper and sometimes Italian spices, but not enough to turn it into spaghetti sauce.

    Hungarian goulash was a completely different dish, even though it had some of the same ingredients.

  • 5 years ago

    WalnutCreek, as Sherry mentions, I don't believe the dish is regional, it's pretty much everywhere, I just think the name is regional. What is goulash here is Chop Suey in the east and Johnny Marzetti elsewhere. There's also chili mac, which is similar, chili with pasta.

    It's all good old American "cheap food" and can be stretched to serve a zillion, and I've always kind of thought it was our version of spaghetti with meat sauce, which is also very similar.

    Annie

  • 5 years ago

    Our other cheap dishes were "Hash". This was made with the leftover chuck roast beef, potatoes, and carrots we had every Sunday for dinner at 1PM. For supper we had hash. chopped onion browned with the bits of leftover beef, potatoes, and carrots, with Worchestire sauce, Served over the leftover rice. Our third cheap dish was "Salmon Crouquettes". Canned salmon, eggs, bread, and rolled in cracker crumbs and fried. Not cheap anymore, since canned salmon prices have gone through the roof. I think Dad paid 97 cents per can for salmon in the 60's. I still make it for hubby every now and then, except they are flat and called "salmon patties" (his mother).

  • 5 years ago

    I'm not sure if it was here, but several years ago I remember a similar discussion and someone else mentioned the name our family used for this dish: Conky-doodle. I'd never known anyone else who knew what that was. My mom didn't bake it in a casserole, but made it stove top. Seemed to me it was just her homemade spaghetti sauce used on macaroni instead of spaghetti. This in the PNW.

  • 5 years ago

    I make a goulash recipe that I got off Mr. Food that my husband loves, I fix it for his lunches. It is the elbow mac with hamburger meat and diced canned tomatoes type recipe....he raves about it. I think it's called "Old Fashioned Goulash" if I'm not mistaken. When I was growing up in Texas, my mom was 100% Czech...her parents were born in Moravia. When she would throw together a bunch of stuff in a pot...mostly like a stew type recipes, she would call that goulash. It wasn't anything in particular, just when it was a pot of a bunch of stuff that had no recipe. In other words, it was different each time.

  • 5 years ago

    Yes, I forgot to say it is a one pot dish on top of the stove.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Mom always joked that it came from the Hungarian side of the family. Alas, we were always 'hungry' as kids and she loved those one-pot meals. you were in charge of your own spoon ... and this was before we had a dishwasher ... I think the family finally got one when I got married ... hey, wait a minute ...

  • 5 years ago

    Bragu, yep. My go to meals with two growing boys were lasagna, cavatina, burritoes, spagetti, ect. In other words, anything with a starch and fit in a 9 x 13 pan! My problem now, is that we still like the same things, but the two of us can't eat that much food!

  • 5 years ago

    Hey I learned something new - thanks!

    I remember my WI aunt making something she called 'slumgullion', but it was a stovetop dish w/ ring bologna & onions, among other things. My NY born & bred dad often made us 'chop suey', which was a bunch of La Choy brand cans emptied into a pot. I never heard of calling mac & ground beef w/ tomatoes "goulash" before now.

    Makes me think of Hamburger Helper, which we NEVER ate, growing up, and I've never had to this day.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    Annie, We grew up with the goulash as you describe. When we had the tomatoes with macaroni, it was served as a side dish-it's good with just a tsp or so of sugar added during cooking. We also had stewed tomatoes which were just heated canned tomatoes with a slice or two of torn bread and a bit of sugar added. I have forgotten so many of those dishes. Does anyone pickle peaches anymore?

  • 5 years ago

    We ate loads of real stewed tomatoes (& prunes) growing up. Stewed tomatoes meant cooked w/ a bit of celery and spices - maybe onion?

    My great aunt made pickled kumquats from my grandpa's tree - which were basically whole kumquats in a spiced, slightly tart syrup.

  • 5 years ago

    I guess I am the oddball on this one. I grew up and still make the Hungarian goulash: beef stew meat, tomato paste, beef stock, red peppers and tons of paprika. Slow simmer until the sauce was thick and hearty. My Hungarian godfather heartily approved.

    Mom did make the macaroni ground beef version but she called it Macaroni Mush.

  • 5 years ago

    Raised in New Jersey, grand parents from Massachusetts and the other ones from the Newark area...Dutch. My mother made a dish of ground beef ( called "chop meat") elbows, tomatoes onions, green peppers and cheese...likely velveeta. Was called American chop suey. Goulash was spicy and beef with a red paprika laden sauce....or it could be chicken
    Married, moved to Iowa and was invited to a friends house for 'goulash"....she had made a big pot and everyone knew it got better then next day.....and wise I ever surprised to see that it was American chop suey!!
    There are so many similar dishes...Joe Marzotti, Johnny Marsetti, pizza casserole and if you add hard boiled eggs pasta cina. There is really no set recipe for any....but mostly just sort of...meat, pasta and tomatoes....and other stuff!

  • 5 years ago

    Pkramer60, Please post your recipe for Hungarian goulash. It is NOT the same thing.

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    This discussion reminded me of Mulligan stew - something we learned to make in Girl Scouts, ages ago.

    I seem to recall it was made w/ browned hamburger meat, elbow macaroni and cans of vegetable soup, lima beans and corn, and simmered over a campfire until macaroni was cooked.

  • 5 years ago

    I agree with those of you who say it's American and not regional. I've lived in many places all over the US and goulash is everywhere... and all pretty much the same... like Sloppy Joes. My kids all make it now in their homes for their growing kids.


    One place we lived, (and I can't remember where) had red or brown goulash. The red was as described here, but the 'brown' was basically a beef, finely sliced onion, noodle and brown gravy casserole. That is the only variant I ever found.


    And, Chop Suey was always cans of La Choy over ground beef.

  • 5 years ago

    When we used to travel and camp all over the country, I used to collect cookbooks from each place we stayed. It was fascinating to see the recipe change slightly as it moved across to reflect the local ingredients.

  • 5 years ago

    Hm... I think I was reared in the land of boring names. Maybe because there are so many different cultures, it was easier to describe the dish than name it? There was Chili Mac, which is obvious. I've heard of Beefy Mac or Macaroni and Beef, which I guess is like the stove top variety you're all talking about, though maybe different. Pasta bake was similar to what Walnut Creek's grandmother made, though maybe with spaghetti sauce instead of the tomatoes, or at least some dried Italian herbs, though it could also be a proper Italian baked pasta.

    Mulligan Stew, outside of scouts, has no recipe. It's hobo stew. Like Stone Soup. All the foods they could beg, borrow or steal, cooked up in a big coffee can (which back when "hobo" was a word in use, was commonly findable in garbage bins) over an open fire.


  • 5 years ago

    Yes, here in Kansas/Missouri, the tomato macaroni hamburger dish is often called goulash. But it's not "real" goulash! But what is in a name after all? BTW, here in about a 100 mile circle is a Chinese dish called Cashew Chicken -- it's like no other -- deep fried breaded chunks of chicken, a brown gravy sauce with soy sauce added and sliced green onion tops and cashews on top. You go out of the 100 mile circle and order cashew chicken and it's a different dish all together!

  • 5 years ago

    Martha, you remind me of the food at an old time restaurant in that old Iowa enclave. It was a bit...odd. :)

  • 5 years ago

    Sherry, it is not something that I have ever written down but here goes.

    2 lbs beef stew meat

    Yellow onions sliced, as many as you like but be generous

    1 can tomato paste, you can use 2 cans also

    2 to three red peppers, cleaned and cut into strips

    beef stock to cover meatPaprika, either sweet or hot (I mix toward hot)

    Flour to thicken

    Brown meat in a saute pan. Add your tomato paste and cook to remove the raw taste and is browned a bit. Add your onions, beef stock, and peppers. Simmer until the meat is tender and add the paprika. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. You are going for a hearty flavor. Thicken with flour to desired consistency. Serve with either boiled potatoes, egg noodles or crunchy hard rolls. Leftovers freeze well. If you have more sauce than meat, we call it goulash soup.

    I make a huge batch and pressure can it for fast easy dinners. Any questions, let me know.

  • 5 years ago

    Martha, your description of Cashew Chicken reminds me of what I ate in Chinese restaurants here in the PNW, but it was Almond Chicken, not cashews. But now, when I order Almond Chicken, I get a stir fry with bare naked chicken (no crust) and stir fried veggies. The Almond chicken of old was just the chicken and gravy and nuts. The closest I've been able to find/replicate is Trader Joe's Mandarin chicken without the sauce. I cook the chicken, add toasted chopped almonds, squirt on some soy sauce (I have no idea how to replicate the gravy). It's good, but not the same.

  • 5 years ago

    Annie, my family of origin is from MI too! And, yes that was our goulash - browned ground beef, chopped stewed tomato, salt and pepper, onion with elbow noodles. If we had celery and green pepper on hand that got thrown in too. Mom served it with corn bread. There was one dish that was served that I have never seen anyone else eat -- was told it came from Arkansas when part of the family moved East (pre WWI) -- cook sausage patties (always patties never crumbles) remove meat, make roux, add water to make gravy and add canned white hominy. Serve over lettuce and sliced cucumber, crumble the sausage patties and garnish with chopped onion. With this meal she served corn dodgers -- corn meal, water maybe an egg patted into shape and fried in oil. Drained then sprinkled with salt.

  • 5 years ago

    I found this article about Cashew chicken.

    http://www.feastmagazine.com/dine/features/article_f2f49324-d3d3-11e4-b597-0b6d0fbc1b83.html

    If you Google Cashew Chicken Springfield, Mo a lot of recipes come up with the fried chicken.

    https://www.google.com/search?q=cashew+chicken+springfield+mo&oq=cashew&aqs=chrome.0.69i59l2j69i57j69i60l2j69i61.5992j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

    Pkramer, thanks for the hints. I don't use a recipe for by beef stew or fried chicken either! I guess what you grow up cooking you don;t normally need one.

  • 5 years ago

    Pkramer, I make my Hungarian goulash similarly, but I stir the flour into a half to one cup of sour cream and add that at the end. The flour stops the sour cream from splitting.

  • 5 years ago

    Sherry -- yes, that is where it started but it spread in a 100 mile radius from Springfield. THAT cashew chicken is the only kind you'll find on Chinese buffets here or on menus. And those in the know still think Leong's is the best!

  • 5 years ago

    I made it tonight. For my husband, I just fried the chicken and made some French fries. For me I made the sauce. I had green onions, but not cashews. It was great!

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    I'd never heard of American goulash before - I've only had Hungarian and German goulash, which are almost identical and similar to Pkramer's recipe. I think Hungarian goulash requires Hungarian paprika, which is the only difference from German goulash. Macaroni is not involved, and German goulash is often served over spätzle, but not macaroni. It is also never made with ground meat - it is more of a beef stew.

  • 5 years ago

    Colleenoz, that sounds wonderful, I will try that.

  • 5 years ago

    Lars, what is German goulash?

  • 5 years ago

    In his post, Lars said, "I think Hungarian goulash requires Hungarian paprika, which is the only difference from German goulash."

  • 5 years ago

    To expand on that, goulash is an ancient dish (i.e., soupy stew--some people call it soup, some call it stew, some say it's neither) that predates the availability of both tomatoes and red peppers (paprika) in Europe. It knows no political boundaries and can be found "native" all over middle Europe. At some point post Columbus, paprika became the renowned seasoning of Hungary (though considering the movement of borders in the region between then and now, saying exactly where that was, beyond Budapest, is beyond absolutes).

    I'm not sure I remember right, but I think German goulash (as in what has been made by home cooks there, popularly, in the last 50-100 years), is more beef saucy, and Hungarian is more red (paprika and tomato?). But that probably drifts family by family. When my father called leftovers stew "goulash" however, we knew it was a joke and not really goulash. :)

  • PRO
    5 years ago

    The German goulash I've had was like a beef stew, but it did have red bell peppers in it and tomatoes and onions, but I don't remember much else about it. My Alsatian grandmother never made it, but I've had it in German restaurants, which I visit no more than once or twice a year. I went to them more often in Texas where there is a higher concentration of Germans. I've only had Hungarian goulash at a Hungarian restaurant in Vancouver, BC, and it was too greasy for my taste.

  • 5 years ago

    It shouldn’t have been greasy, Lars. I’m guessing that restaurant didn’t make good goulash.

  • 5 years ago

    Lars - My mom’s doesn’t have pepper in it either. Just stew meat in a dark gravy as I recall.

  • 5 years ago

    pillog wrote: " Hungarian is more red (paprika and tomato?)"

    My aunt was a Hungarian and sadly I never wrote down her recipes but I remember that her version of the Hungarian goulash did not have tomatoes. The reddish color came from paprika only. There are other variants with tomatoes or peppers as well. The most traditional one is a rather simple and unbelievably tasty beef stew with potatoes (russet), paprika, and caraway seeds. There are also soup versions, though I prefer it as a stew. Whatever the variety, it's still quite different from the "American goulash".

  • 5 years ago
    last modified: 5 years ago

    You're right Colleen - it was not a very good restaurant but it was the only Hungarian restaurant I have found. The Hungarian goulash did not have tomatoes, as I remember.

  • 5 years ago

    Vesfl, from what I can ascertain, the tomatoes are a 20th century thing more than a just post-Columbus thing. It does seem to be more Hungarian than Germany, though.

    Re greasy, that might be authentic. Before central heating the Northern lands had a very different idea about greasy than we do. Additionally, during the iron curtain years, the meats more commonly available in the East were often described as "greasy". I'm not sure if that's from fat, but I suspect there might be a lot of collagen, which can also be perceived as greasy.