Known everywhere, except in Hungary, as goulash (there, what is known as gulyás is in fact much soupier), this stew is made with a generous amount of paprika and cooked down until the meat is fork-tender and the sauce thick and hearty. Unlike other spices, Hungarian paprika powder should not be fried in the cooking oil, advises Éva Cartwright, owner of the Somlói Borok Boltja wine shop, because it tends to burn and can give the stew an unpleasant bitter taste. Mild Hungarian green peppers are essential to the flavor in this dish, but banana peppers can be used as a substitute.
- 1⁄2 cup rendered pork lard or vegetable oil
- 12 oz. oxtail, cut into 1-inch-rounds (have your butcher do this)
- 2 1⁄2 lb. beef shoulder, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 large yellow onions, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 cups red wine
- 1⁄4 cup Hungarian sweet paprika
- 4 Hungarian wax peppers, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 vine-ripe tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sour cream and gherkins, for serving
In a large saucepan, heat the lard over medium-high. Add the oxtails and cook, turning, until golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer the oxtails to a bowl and return the pan to the heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring, until brown and caramelized in spots, about 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beef to the bowl with the oxtails and return the pan to the heat.
Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring, until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cook for 2 minutes, then return the oxtails and beef to the pan along with the wine, paprika, peppers, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cook, covered, until the beef is tender and the sauce is reduced, about 2 1⁄2 to 3 hours. Remove the pan from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Serve the pörkölt with a dollop of sour cream and gherkins on the side.