In a cold, heavy 6 to 8-quart stewing pot, fry bacon over low-medium heat until fat is rendered, and then discard bacon slice.
Saute onions in the bacon fat for a few minutes, do not allow the onions to brown. If bacon does not provide enough fat, add a little olive oil to prevent the onions from sticking. When onions become glossy, add the beef, sauteing with the onions for about 10 minutes, covered, until the meat is browned.
Meanwhile, chop and crush the garlic with the caraway seeds; add to meat and onions. Remove pot from heat. Stir in paprika rapidly with a wooden spoon. Immediately after paprika is absorbed, add the warm water. The water should just cover the meat, leaving room for potatoes.
Add beef bouillon cubes. Cover pot and cook over low heat for about 1 hour.
While stew is braising, prepare the tomatoes by cutting into 1-inch pieces. Core green peppers and cut into strips. After 1 hour of braising, add the tomatoes and green pepper. Add a little more water, if necessary and a little more salt if you need it. Simmer slowly for another 30 minutes.
Peel potatoes and cut into bite-sized cubes and set aside in a bowl of water. Add potatoes, and cook another 30 minutes until the potatoes are fork tender and the goulash is done.
Once goulash is finished, dissolve sour cream and a little of the goulash sauce in a cup. Add to goulash, it should give a creamy consistency. Serve goulash with spaetzle and Cucumber Salad on the side, adding an extra dollop of sour cream to each plate.
Peel and slice cucumbers very thinly. The side of a metal grater with the wide slots works best here, or you can use a mandoline. Place cucumbers in a flat dish and sprinkle throughout with salt, making sure that all the slices are salted. Leave to rest for 30 minutes. The salt will draw the moisture out of the cucumbers. Cut the onion into paper-thin slices and place in a container. Once the cucumbers have released water, use your hands to squeeze out the excess water and add to the onions. The cucumbers are supposed to be limp, but still crisp.
In a measuring cup mix vinegar, water, sugar and paprika to create a vinaigrette. Pour over the cucumbers and onions and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 1/2 hours.
Serve with a sprinkle of dill and a little dollop of sour cream if desired.
Using good quality paprika is important. After about a year, paprika spice tends to lose its intensity. Use the best quality possible! Make the cucumbers before the goulash and it will be perfectly marinated by the time you are done making the stew!
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A viewer or guest of the show, who may not be a professional cook, provided this recipe. It has not been tested for home use.
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