I've always loved goulash. The deep, rich flavors, meaty, hearty, filling. And now that I'm older and see how easy it is, I love it all the more!
If you want to make yourself some, here's a recipe that I came up with to help keep away the still chilly winter weather.
Step 1: What You Need
The list looks a bit long, but most of it is stuff you probably already have on hand, and gives the goulash a nice complex flavor.
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 large onion
1 pound ground beef
A splash of wine (you could leave it out if you really had to, and if you're a minor you can have your parents add it for you)
4 cups tomato juice
4 cups drinking water
1 Tablespoon beef base (beef bullion could be substituted)
1 Tablespoon worcestershire
1 Tablespoon taco seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound pasta
Step 2: The Vegetables
Peel the carrots and finely dice them. Do the same with the onion. Add them to a large pot with the oil. Cook on medium high heat until the onions are translucent.
Step 3: The Beef
Add the ground beef to the pan. As it cooks break it up with a metal spatula. Cook until done and slightly browned.
Step 4: The Liquid
Add the tomato juice and water. A splash of wine adds a lot of flavor, and the alcohol will cook out.
My tomato juice is home canned. If you want chunks of tomato, you could get some cans of diced tomatoes and add them and their juice instead. You'll probably just need to add some more water so theirs enough for the pasta.
Take the heat up to high.
Step 5: The Flavor
Add the beef base, worcestershire, taco seasoning, garlic powder, black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes.
And no, the taco seasoning will not make your goulash taste like tacos. I'm adding just enough to give a complexity of flavor.
Step 6: The Pasta
Once your pan has reached a boil, add the pasta. As far as I know, there's no hard and fast rule that you have to use a certain type of pasta for this, and I use what I have on hand. However, one or two pointers:
1: If you can, avoid spaghetti, because then people will think it's spaghetti and not goulash, since the sauces are very close.
2. Try to use a pasta that has a lot of grooves in it to hold the sauce. I used a little twirly one. It catches the flavor and keeps it on the noodles, since the sauce isn't very thick. Pasta like bowtie wouldn't work as well, though in a pinch would still work fine.
Cook until pasta is tender. It should have absorbed most of the liquid.
Step 7: Eat!
My family has always loved cheese on our goulash, and though it's not really traditional, it's really tasty! Parmesan is a sophisticated choice, and the flavors go well together. Cheddar gives you that yummy gooeyness that everyone loves. I even used feta once, and it kind of mixed with the sauce and made it creamy. Just go with a sharper cheese that's complements the deeper flavors of the goulash.
I hope you enjoy!