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.
Veal Goulash With Sauerkraut
- 4 tablespoons 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 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Lightly brown the veal:
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.
Add onions, then garlic:
Add the onions to the pan with the veal, cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
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.
Simmer about 30 minutes:
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.
Remove veal, reduce the sauce:
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.
Add the sour cream, paprika, and crushed caraway seeds:
and simmer uncovered for another 20 minutes.
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.
Adapted from a recipe in Luchow's German Cookbook by Jan Mitchell, 1952