Emperor's Goulash

This delicious, stick-to-your-ribs beef stew, which has its roots in Central Europe, can be made ahead for easy serving. Chef Ban recommends keeping the meat and sauce separate until ready for plating.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 10 min
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 8 servings
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Ingredients

Goulash

1/2 large Spanish onion, 2½?3 cups diced

2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil, plus more as needed

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 quart beef or veal stock, divided

1 teaspoon caraway seeds, plus up to ½ teaspoon more, to taste

1 teaspoon marjoram

2 pounds beef, cut into large cubes, top round or sirloin

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 lemon, zest only

2 tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

1 ounce ginger, about 1½-inch piece

Fresh lemon juice, to taste (optional)

Parsley leaves, for garnish

Slurry

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons Water

Candied Lemon Zest

1/2 lemon, zest only, see Step 2 for zesting instructions

2 tablespoons water, plus more for blanching

2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

  1. Sauce, part 1: Heat a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Meanwhile, peel and dice the onion. Add vegetable oil and onion to the pot; cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized, 10–15 minutes. (Add more oil as necessary to keep the onions glossy.)
  2. Candied Lemon Zest (optional): While the onions are cooking, prepare the lemon garnish. Set a small saucepan of water over high heat to boil. Use a peeler to remove the yellow zest from half the lemon, avoiding the white pith; finely slice the zest. Add the zest to the boiling water and blanch for about 10 seconds. Drain and reserve the zest. In another small skillet, bring the tablespoons of water and sugar to a boil to dissolve sugar. Add the blanched zest, then turn off heat and set aside. (Store Candied Lemon Zest in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to several months.)
  3. Sauce, part 2: When the onions are soft and golden brown, lightly smash the garlic cloves with the flat of a knife; remove the skins, and add the garlic to the pot and stir. After 1–2 minutes, remove pot from heat; add the paprika and stir well to combine. Add tomato paste and put the pot back on the heat; stir again to combine and caramelize the tomato paste, 30–45 seconds. Add red wine vinegar and stir, scraping to deglaze the pot. Finally, add all but ½ cup beef stock (reserving the rest for later); caraway seeds; and marjoram. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Beef: Meanwhile, season the beef with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper on all sides. When the sauce is just beginning to boil, add the meat; there should be just enough liquid to cover the meat. Cover the pot and cook over low heat at a very gentle simmer, 1½–2 hours, checking after 1½ hours.Sauce, part 3: After 1½ hours, check the meat; it should be very tender. (If not, continue cooking, 30 more minutes.) Use a spider or slotted spoon to move the meat to a separate bowl; set aside. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning; turn off the heat.
  5. Pour sauce into blender. Use a Microplane to add zest from remaining half of lemon; then add crème fraîche and capers. Use a spoon to peel the ginger; then slice thinly and add to blender. Blend on high speed until sauce is smooth, about 30 seconds; taste for flavor and adjust seasoning. Optional: Add fresh lemon juice for more acidity. Strain contents through a fine-mesh strainer or chinois into a bowl, pressing with a ladle to extract all the liquid.
  6. Thicken sauce (optional): If desired, thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry. Transfer sauce back to the pot and bring to a rapid boil over high heat. Meanwhile, whisk cornstarch with water until thoroughly combined. When sauce is boiling, add cornstarch slurry a little at a time, whisking and testing the consistency between additions. (Note: You may have a lot of slurry left over, depending on how thick you want the sauce to be.) When the sauce is thickened, turn heat to low and return meat to the sauce to warm through. Taste one last time for seasoning.
  7. Assembly: Transfer meat to serving bowl, then generously top with sauce. Garnish with a dollop of crème fraîche, a few strands of Candied Lemon Zest, and parsley leaves before serving.
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