Monday, January 17, 2011

Comfort Food... Mom's Goulash

This recipe didn't come from my mom, it came from a magazine a long, long time ago. It might have been Taste of Home, but it's been so long that I can't remember now. Wherever I got it, it's definitely a keeper! My kids loved this when they were still living at home, and my husband still does.

Goulash is wonderful because you can make it a little bit different every time, you don't have to follow an exact recipe. You can use regular elbow macaroni if you like, but I love the smaller Ditalini when I can find it. Ditalini is sort of like elbow macaroni chopped into smaller pieces.

The recipe given here makes a huge batch, so if you don't have a big family you can cut it in half, but keep the same size can of diced tomatoes. The tomato paste was a new addition this time because it seemed like it needed something more, but I usually don't need to use it. This is just exactly how I made what you see in the pictures.

You can change up the spices too. Sometimes I use Penzey's Smoked Spanish Paprika just to be different. You can spice it up however you like, but the one thing I would not change is the celery salt. That is what sets this apart and makes it so good. The celery seed can be left out if you don't like it, but the celery seed I use is also from Penzey's, and is more ground up so it's not like you are biting into little seeds.

Here's what I used for this batch:

1 box (1 lb) Barilla brand Ditalini pasta (or elbow macaroni)
2 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2-3 stalks celery, diced
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes (substitute crushed tomatoes in puree if you don't like big chunks of tomatoes)
2 cans tomato soup
1 small can tomato paste
celery salt
celery seed
Penzey's 4S Seasoned Sea Salt
olive oil

Dice up the onion and celery, and cook in a little bit of oil for a few minutes. It will continue to cook along the way, so you don't want to let them get too soft. Sprinkle a little salt over it.

Add ground beef and cook until browned. Stir in the tomatoes, soup and tomato paste. Stir in spices and let it simmer.

While all that is going on, cook the pasta according to package directions. Don't let it get too done, because it will continue to cook after you add it to the tomato-ground beef mixture. Remember to salt the water generously before you cook the pasta because this is your only chance to season it. Drain it well - shake the colander. You don't want any extra water hiding inside those cute little Ditalinis - I think that may have been the reason why I felt I needed the tomato paste, I may have not drained the pasta well enough and my mixture got a little diluted. You can be the judge of how thick your goulash is and decide whether or not you need it.

Once your pasta is well drained, stir it into the tomato mixture. Let it simmer a little so the flavors will blend. I honestly think this tastes even better the next day.


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