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Goulash
To give an authentic flavor to this savory stew, look for Hungarian sweet paprika in the spice section of well-stocked supermarkets or specialty-food stores. Unlike most mild American paprika, which adds little but color, this dark red powder has a rich, aromatic flavor that captures the essence of the dried and milled paprika peppers from which it is made. Hungarian paprika is produced in five grades based on piquancy and heat; the sweet type, called for in this recipe, is the most versatile and easiest to find.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 leeks, white and light green portions,
     rinsed well and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. caraway seeds
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 2 lb. stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 Tbs. sweet Hungarian paprika
  • 3 cups chicken, beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 can (14 1⁄2 oz.) diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Yukon gold potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1⁄4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1⁄2 cup sour cream

Directions:

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the leeks and caraway seeds and sauté until the leeks are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the bell pepper and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes more.

Add the beef and paprika and sauté until the beef is evenly browned on all sides, 7 to 10 minutes.

Increase the heat to high, add the stock and bring to a boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape up the browned bits from the pan bottom. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover partially and simmer until the meat is fork-tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

Stir in the tomatoes and their juices, the garlic, potato, parsnip, carrots, salt and pepper. Cover partially and cook until all the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes more. Stir in the parsley. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

Ladle the stew into warmed soup bowls and garnish with the sour cream. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Soup & Stew, by Diane Rossen Worthington (Simon & Schuster, 2004).