Italian-Style Goulash Beef Stew (Goulash di manzo)

Beef goulash and polenta
Beef goulash and polenta. Thorsten Suedfels/Getty Images
  • 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Prep: 30 mins,
  • Cook: 2 hrs
  • Yield: 4-6 servings

Most people associate goulash, a hearty meat-and-vegetable stew seasoned with paprika, with Hungary and Central Europe. However, it's also quite popular and traditional in Italy's northeastern Alps region, a rustic, mountainous area that was long under Austrian rule (the town of  Bolzano, in Italy's Sudtirol province, is ethnically German and was annexed by Italy only at the end of World War I). The Austrians, in turn, learned how to make this delicious stew from the Hungarians. 

This hearty, comforting winter dish is delightful when served together with a steaming pot of creamy polenta. You can serve it together with the same wine you used in the recipe (some suggestions for the best red wine to use are noted below the recipe). 

[Edited by Danette St. Onge]

What You'll Need

  • 1/4 cup lard
  • 1 1/3 pounds (500 g) onions, peeled and sliced into rings
  • 2 pounds (1 kg) stew beef, cubed
  • 1 cup (250 ml) dry red wine (see suggestions, below)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 2 cups (500 ml) hot water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • The juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste​

How to Make It

Heat the lard in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add the onion. Saute, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the onions have softened and browned, about 5-6 minutes. Push the onions to the sides of the pot and brown the cubed beef in the open space in the middle. Mix the meat and the onions together and continue cooking until thoroughly browned.

Stir in the red wine and the vinegar, add salt to taste, and simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated.

Sprinkle in the paprika and add a little of the hot water. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 1/2 hours. Add more water only as necessary, to keep it from drying out.

When the meat is done, remove the onions from the pot and mix them together with the spices, lemon zest, and butter. Return the onion-and-spice mixture to the pot, stir in the lemon juice as well, and cook a few minutes more over low heat. Adjust seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serve accompanied with creamy polenta, mashed potatoes, or with wide buttered pasta or egg noodles, and a fairly full-bodied red wine, for example, a Teroldego from Trentino, or a Valpolicella Classico Superiore.