Classic goulash is rightfully popular all over the world. A not too spicy stew, toned down with some sour cream, is one of the world’s great tastes. An authentic goulash recipe may be made with beef, veal, lamb or pork. The seasoning for goulash and the meat selected, account for some of the local differences between a goulash made in Hungary and other Eastern European countries like Romania, Poland and many, other nearby countries.
Classic goulash might be the national dish of Hungary, but it is also a traditional Romanian food, paying homage to its shepherding past.
And what to serve with goulash? There are so many great options. Mashed potato, pasta and rice just to name a few. But if you want to experience traditional Romanian food, pair your pork goulash with polenta. And, polenta has the added attraction of being gluten-free. While the defacto, national dish of Romania might be cabbage rolls, pork goulash with polenta runs a close second.
Where Did Goulash Originate?
Where did goulash come from? There is no secret to this one. There is a reason a traditional Hungarian goulash recipe, is the national dish of Hungary. But, it is typically made with beef these days.
What’s goulash? A traditional goulash recipe is a thick stew first made by Hungarian shepherds when away from home, incorporating meat, vegetables and spices. The main spice for goulash is paprika with other spices playing a supporting role.
An authentic goulash recipe has a substantial amount of agricultural history behind it. The origin of goulash dates to a time when herdsmen or shepherds would be away for months at a time, usually all-male groups of 4 to 6 shepherds looking after the herd. The meat would be cooked, spiced and dried before leaving home. The simple addition of water makes for a thick stew that could be quickly put together at the end of the day. You can read more about the origin of goulash here.
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A traditional goulash recipe always includes paprika. Seasoning for goulash requires paying some attention to what variety of paprika you are using. A quick trip to a good grocery store, confirms there are many varieties of paprika to choose from. Do you want a spicy goulash or are you after a classic goulash with a milder taste?
If you are looking to replicate a classic goulash recipe I would go for “Hungarian paprika”, “smoky paprika” or “sweet paprika”. They will all deliver slightly different results. The best all round choice is “Hungarian paprika”, if you love a smoky taste go for “smoky paprika”. “Sweet paprika” is the mildest choice. You can read more about paprika here.
Once you know what paprika you are going to use, it is time to make our paprika pork recipe, pork goulash.
Traditional Romanian Food: Pork Goulash
In rural, Romania, you can still observe shepherds, hard at work, minding their flocks of sheep. Tradition still runs very strongly in Romania and this flows through in the food. On numerous occasions, we observed traditional Romanian food being prepared on open fires with big pots of steaming Romanian dishes.
This authentic goulash recipe is a popular food in Romania. Pork goulash is easy to make and is all “set and forget”. All the work is up front making it an ideal dinner party food. There are no hard to source items to buy. Most people already have these ingredients in their kitchen.
And what to serve with goulash? In Romania, they serve it with Romanian polenta. Yes, polenta. Gluten-free, filling and a perfect base for soaking up all those lovely Romanian goulash juices. In fact, polenta is a popular Romanian food, maybe even more popular than in Italy. Using polenta as the answer to what to serve with goulash is a major point of difference from Hungarian goulash.
Have some fun with this dish. It’s a great paprika pork recipe that is sure to appeal to the whole family And remember, experiment with the spicing and ingredients. Use this recipe as a base for what you have in your kitchen!
More Stews, Casseroles and Comfort Food
Fancy trying some other great stews and casseroles from around the world? You might try these ones:
Here is a French, Coq au Vin with a twist, try this chicken and red wine classic in the slow cooker.
Here is another easy, slow cooker recipe using beef and Pinot Noir. Red Wine and Herb casserole is a good one for busy people.
And finally, maybe my favorite stew of all time. Sultan’s Delight from Turkey is made with lamb and paired with smoky eggplant. It delivers an incredibly rich and satisfying meal. Give it a try, you won’t regret it!