A Ghoulish Affair
Gratefully, rushes of crisp air, cool mornings, and chilly evenings are signaling a change in the season. With the traditional back-to-school schedule a distant memory and the arrival of the pumpkin spice season upon us, like it or not, the holiday season is here. Yep, Halloween has become the official kick-off to the holidays. Prior to the pandemic, we’d be gathering a host of friends together for a casual Halloween dinner while greeting the little ghosts and goblins at the door. Of course, that’s not happening in this extraordinary year. It may prevent me from a lot of normal activities, but I’m not letting the coronavirus stop me from preparing and enjoying my favorite fall dish.
For my ghoulish affair for two, I’ll be serving a big pot of hearty stew. A classic Hungarian, rich with sweet red pepper ladled over buttery egg noodles, is the perfect cool weather comfort food. And super easy to do ahead. Some garlicy toasted bread alongside is all you need to complete the meal. Note: Hungarian sweet paprika is key to the rich flavor and beautiful color of this classic soup. Be sure to heat the spices through to release their fragrance and flavor.
I’ll be embracing the comfort that our fall weather affords us. So eat, drink, and be scary. Oh, and just so you know—not that anyone is counting-- there are 54 days until Christmas. And 61 days ‘til the first of 2021. Bring it on.
Soup Serves 6
½ cup flour
salt and ground black pepper
3 to 3 ½ pounds boneless beef chuck roast, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika
1 ½ teaspoons caraway seeds
3 tablespoons tomato paste
5 cups beef stock
3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
16 ounces wide egg noodles, cooked al dente
1 cup sour cream
1. Combine the flour with salt and pepper and dredge the beef in the mixture. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and sear the meat in batches. Transfer the meat and set aside.
2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add the vinegar and deglaze the pot, scraping to loosen the browned bits. Stir in the paprika, caraway seeds, and tomato paste. Stir in the stock, potatoes, and reserved beef and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until the meat is tender, approximately 1 hour. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
3. To serve, place portions of noodles in wide bowls and ladle the stew on top. Garnish with the sour cream.