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Coming from the north, I believe winter should be cold. Ideally with snow. The latter doesn't happen often here, but every few years we get the continuous, colder temperatures of my dreams. We’ve been lucky this year with an abundance of winter-like days.

And cold weather makes me crave hot, stew-like comfort food. The ideal Sunday for me is one I spend cooking — preferably something that simmers for hours, filling the house with scrumptious aromas as I count down the minutes to dinner.

This year, I hit the jackpot. I found Chef John’s beef goulash recipe and gave it a try. I made a few adjustments the second time around, and now, without a doubt, this is my favorite winter comfort food. In fact, it’s one of my favorite meals ever.

It has a lot of ingredients, and it takes quite some time. I recommend starting by collecting, measuring, and preparing all of the ingredients before doing any cooking. Active time is a little less than an hour. Combined  with cooking time, this takes about 3 ½ hours. I promise, though, it’s worth the effort and the time.

Give it a try and let me know what you think!

This recipe yields about 6 servings. Even though I’m cooking for two, I make the full recipe. It freezes beautifully, so we get multiple meals out of it.


3 ½ to 4 pounds of beef chuck roast, cut into 2 inch cubes

Salt & pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

2 onions, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons of olive oil

½ teaspoon of salt

2 tablespoons of Hungarian paprika (sweet smoked paprika works too)

2 teaspoons of caraway seeds

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon of dried marjoram

½ teaspoon of ground thyme

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

4 cups of chicken broth

½ cup of tomato paste

5 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon of white sugar

½ teaspoon of salt, or to taste

1 bay leaf

Note re ingredients: there are several spices in this recipe, and if you don’t have them on hand, it can get expensive. Central Market has a bulk foods section with spices where you can buy very small amounts… only what you need. That can save you quite a bit.


  1. Season the beef with salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet on high heat.

  2. Cook the beef until well-browned, about 5 minutes. I do this in two batches.

  3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to a large, heavy pot. I use a cast-iron Dutch oven. Leave the drippings in the skillet.

  4. Lower the skillet heat to medium and add the onions. Drizzle olive oil over the onions, season with ½ teaspoon of salt, and cook until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the onions to the pot with the beef.

  5. In the skillet, stir in the paprika, caraway seeds, pepper, marjoram, thyme and cayenne pepper and cook until fragrant, probably less than a minute. Add 1 cup of chicken broth to the spices, stir, and transfer the mixture to the pot with the beef and onions. You are done with the skillet and can take it off the stove.

  6. Add 3 cups of chicken broth to the pot and stir.

  7. Add the tomato paste, garlic, vinegar, sugar, ½ teaspoon of salt, and the bay leaf to the pot, and mix until all ingredients are well-incorporated.

  8. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.

  9. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 2.25 to 2.5 hours. You want the liquid to cook down and the meat to be ‘falling-apart’ tender.

Serve this over buttered pappardelle pasta. Chef John recommends serving over buttered egg noodles. The first time I made it, the store was out of egg noodles, so I bought pappardelle pasta. We loved it so much that we’re sticking with the pasta.

Jane Gennarelli is co-editor of LNF Weekly. She also edits the Lavaca & Friends weekly arts and entertainment newsletter.

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