Goulash is an ancient Hungarian dish which uses Paprika and Garlic. It’s thought that Christopher Columbus introduced Paprika to Europe having found it as a domesticated plant among the Native American people (the explorers named it ’Indian pepper’). The pepper plant adapted to the Mediterranean climate and from Spain it was introduced to Southern France and England . . . and it soon became Europe’s favourite decorative house plant!
The use of paprika as a spice was spread by the Turks who brought the ground dried fruits of these bell peppers to the Balkan Peninsula first, and later to Hungary. In Hungary it was also used for decoration, first. In 1570, it was mentioned in Margit Széchy’s garden as ’red Turkish pepper’, and in 1579, the French botanist, Clusius introduced it into the garden of Count Boldizsár Batthyányi.
Clusius is famed for the development of new garden cultures and cultivated plants, such as the tulip, potato, and chestnut, from other parts of the world. He was the director of the Holy Roman Emperor’s garden in Vienna (1573–87) and spent the later years of his life teaching in Leiden, where his cultivation of tulips in the botanic garden was the beginning of the Dutch tulip bulb industry.
Goulash was traditionally made with beef (the name originates from the Hungarian word ‘gulya’ which means ‘herd of cattle’ in Hungarian, and ‘gulyas’ means herdsman). Magyar shepherds used lamb and cooked the dish in vast iron kettles but you can also use rabbit.
2 tbsp Olive oil
1-2 Rabbit – approx. 700g – drawn, skinned and cut into 6 pieces. Front legs, Rear legs and saddle cut into 2
30g plain Flour
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 green and 1 red Pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 tbsp Tomato puree
1-2 tbsp Paprika
2 large Tomatoes, peeled and diced
75ml dry White wine
300 ml Vegetable or Chicken stock (If possible made from rabbit bones boiled for an hour or so with some vegetables eg. carrot and celery)
Salt and freshly ground black Pepper
2 tbsp flat-leaf Parsley, chopped
150ml soured Cream
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C/Gas Mark 3
Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a casserole dish or heavy-based saucepan. Toss the rabbit meat in the flour and then brown in the hot oil over a medium heat until browned on all sides. Leave to one side. Now add the remaining oil to the pan with the onion, garlic, green and red pepper and fry gently until softened for about 5 minutes.
Return the rabbit meat to the pan with the tomato puree and 1 or 2 tbsp of the paprika depending how spicy you like the goulash to be. Cook, stirring for 2 minutes and then add the tomatoes, wine and stock. Cover and cook in the oven for 2 and a half hours to 3 hours until the meat falls off the bones.
Season with salt and pepper, stir in the parsley and soured cream and serve with boiled rice, saffron rice, creamed potato or crusty bread.
Bordeaux Rosé is super with this dish – most wine drinkers don’t realize that Rosés, especially well-made Rosés, can be just as complex as their white or red counterparts . . . and that Bordeaux has been making this style of wine for over 1000 years. They have less tannin than red wine but these wines can be light and refreshing as well as velvety smooth and voluptuous. You’ll find that the French like to keep their hands on the Rosés they produce – in fact sales of Rosé wines in France have now overtaken those of white wine. Even the top flight Bordeaux Grand Crus Classés produce Rosés – these wines obviously come at a price and some are quite difficult to get hold of. However I have three fantastic Bordeaux Rosés that I can highly recommend:
A sophisticated wine with good refreshing acidity whilst being rounded, smooth and supple in the mouth and is of medium body. The colour is a deep coral pink with orange highlights and the wine has notes of earthy ripe strawberry, red cherry, orange zest, sweet hay, spice and minerality.
Fabulous dry, deep, dark pomegranate pink and is bursting with the flavours of ripe red currant, red gooseberries, raspberry, crushed strawberry and citrus. It is silky smooth, well rounded, deep and has a lovely long finish.
A wine for the epicurian – mouth wateringly, crisp, rich salmon pink rose petal colour with the flavours of redcurrant, raspberry, strawberry, pomegranate and cranberry.
Alternatively you can match a semi-sweet white with this dish: Chateau Le Rondailh 2011 is a Bordeaux Moelleux, a semi-sweet white wine that we don’t often see feted outside France. These types of wines are quite exceptional – slightly sweet, rounded and supple with mouth quenching acidity and superb balance. Le Rondailh is vibrant, fresh and lively with flavours of pear, peach, melon and lemon and delicate notes of hazelnut and crystallized pineapple.