America’s Test Kitchen #1: Slow-Cooker Hungarian Beef Goulash

I made this yesterday so I’m counting it as my first completed recipe of the America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook Challenge.

I love stews and roasts, regardless of the weather, and I love cooking in the slow cooker.  It requires less attention and fiddling with than other methods, which is easier on my back.  It’s also great when the temperature is near 100 degrees as it has been here, since it doesn’t heat the whole house like the oven would.

This recipe, like all the slow cooker recipes in the ATK book calls for a lot more prep than your usual slow cooker recipe.  First it asks you to break down a 5-6 pound chuck roast into cubes of 1 1/2 inches, trimmed of fat.  That was not as hard as I thought it would be, although the amount of usable meat you get out of a huge roast like that is not as much as you’d expect.  Probably you’d get more for your money if you bought prepared stew meat.  But I’ve noticed that the stew meat they usually sell is in smaller pieces than I really like, so this method does make sense.  In the finished dish, most of my meat had disintegrated into tiny pieces, except for the really large squares.  It’s actually nice to have a mix of intact hunks and shredded beef, so my lack of uniform size worked for me.

Next you brown the meat, which I should probably have done in two batches as instructed, but I just didn’t because I didn’t read that part until it was too late.  Enough of the meat was well seared that it had good flavor.  Then you sweat the onions and peppers and assemble the rest of the ingredients in your saute pan before pouring it into the crock pot.  So there’ s bigger mess and more pots to clean, but I can’t argue with the results.

I cooked it on high for about 7 hours, then added the sour cream, flour and broth for 30 minutes.  The recipe calls for adding 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar right before serving, but I only added one, knowing that neither my husband or myself really like vinegar.  It had just the right amount of bite to me.  I served it over buttered egg noodles, as recommended.

This dish was seriously, seriously good.  It had a deep beefy flavor, but was totally different from a regular beef stew or beef tips.  It was difficult to pick out any particular flavor, but they all just worked together to make it interesting and flavorful and super yummy.  A dish that is more than the sum of its parts.  I’m looking forward to leftovers tonight.

Cookbook Challenge progress: 1/1200

Only 1199 to go!

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