Veal Goulash with Sauerkraut

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Years ago in Manhattan, there was a rather famous German restaurant by the name of Luchow’s. It was established in 1882 and operated continuously for a hundred years, finally shutting down in 1984. In its heyday Luchow’s was well known as a hang out for musicians and entertainers such as Steinway, Dvorak, and later, Oscar Hammerstein. It even had a room named after Diamond Jim Brady, a regular.

I don’t recall how it happened, but my father came across a used copy of Luchow’s German Cookbook, a compilation of recipes from that now long gone restaurant. He quickly zeroed in on the recipe for an Austrian goulash with sauerkraut, also called Szegedine Goulasch in the book. I often accuse my dad of having sauerkraut in his veins, and not without reason. He just can’t pass up an interesting recipe that calls for that fermented cabbage. This “goulash” is chunks of veal, cooked with onions and tomatoes in a paprika sour cream sauce, served over sauerkraut. So so good.

We have since made the recipe six ways to Sunday—with pork instead of veal (not as good), with beef instead of veal (also not as good), shorter cooking time, longer cooking time, etc.—and have come to the conclusion that it is a fabulous recipe, it just needs more sauekraut (we doubled it for ours) and it really is best with veal. It’s also important to not get overzealous with the browning of the meat. It just needs the slightest hint of brown so that you know it’s done, not a sear which can toughen up the delicate veal meat.

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Veal Goulash with Sauerkraut Recipe

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  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 8.

Ingredients

  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter or rendered beef fat
  • 2 pounds of veal, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced onions, sliced root to tip, 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes, or chopped fresh ripe tomatoes
  • 1 cup full-fat sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, chopped or crushed in a mortar with pestle
  • 2 28-30 ounce jars sauerkraut (we recommend Bubbies, in the refrigerated section of the grocery store)
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Method

1 Heat butter or beef fat in a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Pat dry the cubed veal. Sprinkle with salt and add to pan. Working in batches, sauté the meat until the meat is just beginning to brown.

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2 Add the onions to the pan with the veal, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.

3 Add a teaspoon of salt, a half teaspoon of black pepper, and the tomatoes. Add enough water to just barely cover the meat, about 2 cups or so, depending on the size and shape of your pan.

4 Increase the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer, then lower the heat to maintain a low simmer, uncovered. Cook until the meat is almost cooked through, about 30 minutes.

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5 Use a slotted spoon to remove the veal from the pan to a bowl to temporarily set aside. Increase the heat to high and let the liquid boil until it is reduced by half. Lower the heat to medium. Add the meat back to the pan.

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6 Add the sour cream, paprika, and crushed caraway seeds, and simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes.

7 Heat the sauerkraut in a medium pot on medium heat until hot.

To serve, strain the sauerkraut. Place the sauerkraut in a serving dish and top with the goulash.

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Adapted from a recipe in Luchow's German Cookbook by Jan Mitchell, 1952

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Showing 4 of 22 Comments

  • Timka

    As it was written here before: gulyás (goulash) is NOT a german food! That’s hungarian. And as a hungarian from Hungary I have to tell you that this reciepe is not even a gulyás (which is a delicious soup with vegetables and meat and paprika of course, but that’s an other story:)).
    As someone wrote already it’s called székely káposzta.
    Both are traditional in Hungary and delicious, but not the same dishes. (and about it’s oder name: Szegedine goulash—I think it’s not in connection whith Szeged,which is the third biggest city in Hungary, and also known as the land of paprika, but I guess that this name came from a lady,an ordinary housewife, whose name was “Szegediné” which means Mrs. Szegedi. In hungarian that’s the mark (“né” ending with the husband’s name)of marrige.

    May I give you an advice aboute the usage of paprika? It gives you the best arome, if you take it to the oil, or fat directly. Beware that paprika can easily burn down, and than it’ll have an awful taste, so first you have to take the pan off the direct heat before adding the paprika. I would do it between the 2nd and the 3rd step in your recipe;)

    Anyway I’m glad to see that hungarian kitchen made you happy:)I hope you’ll taste that personally once)! (I would glad to cook you:))

    Best wishes
    Timka from Hungary

  • beata

    Hi, I am from Hungary and this is one of my favourite winter dishes! One should also try eating it the next day, with extra sour cream and a good slice of bread. Hungarians say that, following a break-up, love is not good reheated, only székelykáposzta is (this goulash with sauerkraut).

  • Bob

    If you do it right, the smell doesn’t have to be all that bad. My family doesn’t even really realize that I have a batch going when I’m making it… and I do it on the kitchen counter! Email me if you ever want a little friendly advice.

  • Bob

    I’m an OSU (Oregon State University) Master Food Preserver. I do a lot of canning, drying, freezing, smoking, etc., and teach others to do those things, too.

    Might I suggest a fun project for you and your father… making homemade sauerkraut! It is FAR superior to any commercially produced sauerkraut that I’ve ever had. It’s easy to make and can, and the effort is well worth it. I will eat no other in my home. Yes, I’m a sauerkraut snob.

    I think it would be wonderful in this dish, and I’m going to give it a try.

    I’ve been trying to talk my dad into making homemade sauerkraut for years. He doesn’t want to stink up his garage. But now that I have my own garage, I may tackle it. BTW, I had a friend make his own sauerkraut in his small apartment in New York City. He loved the sauerkraut but not the way the making of it made his apartment smell! ~Elise

  • Bela

    Oh, well. Johnny come lately … I’m Hungarian too but my compatriots already gave the lessons about the “gulyás” (goulash) and the “székely káposzta”. Fabulous dish! The memories eating it in the school cafeteria made me smile. Just like my childhood in Budapest. I always eat this with a slice of hearty bread. It’s just so good to dunk it in the “szaft” (sauce in Hungarian). I also put some extra sour cream on the top.

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