Beef Goulash with Dumplings

Years ago Laura and I were invited to an event at our company’s office in Wroclaw Poland. The evening before the event was to start there was a really fun buffet in a former slaughter house, which had been converted into a bowling alley! It wasn’t creepy at all. We really enjoyed ourselves and the Polish folks were super nice. We were talking about it last night and Laura remarked that among all the great food they served was this Goulash that she still remembers to this day as the best she ever has tasted. So, of course, I had to try making some. I found a recipe online which called for things like Sweet Hungarian Paprika, Spicy Hungarian Paprika, fresh marjoram, fresh thyme, cake flour, and baking powder; things we could not get or do not want to keep up here in Northern Wisconsin, where we currently are on vacation.

For the spicy paprika, I increased the amount of regular paprika and added a bit of cayenne pepper. I substituted dried marjoram and dried thyme for the fresh. For cake flour, it turns out you can make a good substitute for a cup of cake flour by taking a cup of All-Purpose flour, removing two tablespoons of flour and adding two tablespoons of cornstarch. This has the effect of reducing the amount of gluten in the mixture making it more fluffy and not sticky. Instead of baking powder, I substituted club soda, which Germans sometimes use when they make Spaetzle.

Before adding the dumplings
Author: Jim Kirkley

Should be served with a dollop of sour cream

Serves: 4

Beef Goulash with Dumplings


2 Tbsp, olive oil
2 large, onions –
thinly sliced (about 4 cups sliced onions)

1 tablespoon, sugar
3 garlic cloves –
minced (about 1 Tbsp)

1 tablespoon, caraway seeds –
toasted and ground

1 1/2 tablespoons, paprika
1/2 teaspoon, cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon, marjoram
1/2 teaspoon, thyme
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons, tomato paste
2 tablespoons, balsamic vinegar
4 cups, chicken stock
2 1/2 pounds, chuck roast –
cut into 2-inch cubes (trimmed of excess fat)

1 teaspoon, kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon, freshly ground black pepper
2 cups, cake flour
2 teaspoons, baking powder
1 teaspoon, salt
3/4 cup, milk
2 tablespoons, melted butter


  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with sugar, and cook, stirring often, until the onions are browned and caramelized, about 20 minutes. If the onions at any point look like they are drying out in the pan, lower the heat.
  2. Add the beef and begin to brown. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the minced garlic and ground toasted caraway seeds and cook a minute more.
  4. Sprinkle with the sweet and spicy paprikas and toss to coat. Stir in the marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf. Cook for another minute, until fragrant.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the vinegar and stock and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
  6. Bring the whole mixture to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat to low to maintain a simmer.
  7. Cover and cook until the beef is falling apart tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Make the dumplings: To prepare the dumplings, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with the milk and melted butter, mixing lightly.
  9. After the stew has cooked until tender, drop the dumpling batter by (heaping) teaspoonfuls into the simmering stew. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
  10. Once you have covered the pan, do not uncover while the dumplings are cooking! In order for them to be light and fluffy, they must steam. If you uncover the pan, the steam will escape and the dumplings will boil instead.
  11. After 15 minutes, test the dumplings with a toothpick. If the toothpick comes out clean, the dumplings are done.

Instead of the dumplings you can use egg noodles.


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