How to make hearty beef goulash – South German style. Psst – a malty German dark lager with caramel notes elevates the flavor base.
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Deriving from the original Hungarian dish and adding on to centuries of shared Central European culinary history goulash has hundreds of variations and is popular in both stew and soup versions.
We are particularly fond of the way the Bavarians prepare it – this is a classic recipe using beef stew meat from the land of Oktoberfest where beef goulash aka Rindergulasch is a staple on beer hall and beer garden menus.
How is German Goulash Different?
Since the introduction of peppers to the Old World paprika has been the principal seasoning for goulash, no matter the country. From the North of Germany to the South of Croatia it is a signature ingredient of the dish.
German goulash recipes however also benefit from the addition of flavorful German lagers, especially in the South part of the country. In Bavaria where beer is a highly esteemed recipe ingredient dark styles add lovely malty depth and roasty notes to goulash.
Another characteristic is that German goulash tends to have a thicker consistency unless it is intentionally prepared as a gulaschsuppe.
Cooking oil. You can use olive or vegetable oil, some original recipes call for clarified butter (aka Butterschmalz, ghee).
Onions. Typically diced very small, they literally melt into the braising liquid by the time the dish is ready.
Beef meat. Use chuck or other beef stew meat cut into more or less uniform bite sized pieces so they can cook evenly.
Tomato paste. Adds umami, depth and acidity to the braising liquid.
Seasonings. The classics are salt and pepper, marjoram, caraway seed and of course – sweet paprika (aka Hungarian paprika).
Beef stock. Many Rindergulasch recipes simply call for water, but using beef stock will reward you with a greater depth of flavor.
Beer. Select a German dark lager such as bock, doppelbock, Munich/Franconian dunkel, dark wheat beer (Dunkelweizen) or when in season – Märzen.
Potatoes and/or peppers, carrots. Optional – these are all historically late additions to goulash. More often than not classic German beef goulash is just the meat simmered in the flavorful liquid resulting from the ingredients listed above. Potatoes are most commonly added since they provide starch as they cook, which makes the goulash thicker and smoother. They can be diced small or cut in larger chunks. Peppers and carrots are also popular additions.
Workflow for German Goulash with Beef and Dark German Lager
German goulash is very simple to make, the beef pieces are typically not seared, but rather added to the sauted onions and cooked until the juices run clear. If you feel strongly about it you could however follow the typical procedure of seasoning the beef with salt and pepper, searing it and then sauteing the onion and proceeding with the recipe. We find that there is not perceptible difference taste wise.
Use a braiser, a Dutch oven or a good heavy pot with a lid.
- Start by cooking down the onions in the oil or ghee until very soft.
- Add the beef and cook down until its juices run clear and most of the liquid evaporates.
- Add the tomato paste and paprika, stir to mix then add the beer and delgaze the bottom.
- Add the beef stock and the rest of the seasonings, then bring to boil. Reduce the heat, cover and let simmer for about an hour and a half or until the meat is very tender.
- If using potatoes add them to the goulash towards the end of the simmer time and cook until soft.
Popular Ways to Serve Rindergulasch
If you prepared the recipe with potatoes you can simply go ahead and enjoy a bowlful as a complete meal.
Rindergulasch, when prepared without potatoes is often served with mashed potatoes, Knödel, rice, noodles or spaetzle (here is How to Make Spaetzle from Scratch).
No matter what side you choose or if you choose to serve a side at all, traditionally German goulash is accompanied by bread to mop up the liquid deliciousness. Choose from rye bread, yeasty German beer bread, or even soft pretzels.
Always sprinkle a pinch of paprika over each serving and garnish with a fresh herb such as parsley or oregano. A dollop of sour cream is quite complementary too.
A flavorful German lager is always the best drink partner to Rindergulasch – tried and true!
Other Recipes You Might Enjoy
- 2 tbsp cooking oil or ghee
- 2 lbs onions, diced small (about 5 medium onions)
- 2 lbs chuck beef (or similar beef cut for stew)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tbsp sweet paprika (aka Hungarian paprika)*
- 12 oz dark German lager such as Munich dunkel, bock, doppelbock, Schwarzbier or Marzen**
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
- 2 tsp salt or to taste
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 tsp dried marjoram (sub with oregano)
- 1 1/2 lbs Yukon gold potatoes (optional, about 3-4 medium sized potatoes)***
- In a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat heat the oil and saute the diced onions until they cook down and become soft (7-10 mins).
- Add the beef, stir and cook until its juices run clear and most of the liquid in the pot has evaporated (about 10 mins).
- Stir in the tomato paste and paprika, cook for about 1 min.
- Add the beer to deglaze and scrape the bottom of the pot.
- Add the beef stock, salt & pepper, caraway and marjoram, stir and bring to boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about 80 minutes. You may stir occasionally.
- After 80 mins add the potatoes. Add a bit of water if/as needed. Cook for another 20 minutes or so, depending on how large you cut the potatoes. (If not using potatoes simply continue to simmer the beef until it reaches your desired tenderness).
- Serve with rye bread, chopped parsley or oregano as garnish and sprinkle each bowl with a pinch of paprika.
*If you like paprika feel free to double the amount.
**You may substitute with the same quantity of beef stock or 6 oz of red wine (not the Bavarian way but will taste good)
***You may also throw in one bell pepper and a cup of carrots, cut uniformly into smallish pieces.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 596 Total Fat: 18g Saturated Fat: 6g Trans Fat: 1g Unsaturated Fat: 11g Cholesterol: 155mg Sodium: 1274mg Carbohydrates: 45g Net Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 9g Sugar Alcohols: 0g Protein: 56g