Savoury, Spicy Goulash inspired by Winnipeg

The food arrived, the hot steaming fragrance of it filling the room, savoury and varied and as spicy as an adventure, rich with the treasured cooking-lore of the whole of Europe . . . Soup came first. But this was merely to prepare the guests for the more serious business of eating. Immediately after, there appeared an enormous bowl of chicken goulash, steaming hot in its red sauce of paprika, with great fat globules floating on the surface. As a side dish for soaking up the gravy there was a mound of home-made noodles, accompanied by small green gherkins with flesh clear as glass from their long immersion in brine, with the pungent aroma of dill and garlic and the young tender leaves of horse-radish.

John Marlyn’s Under the Ribs of Death, 99

Recipe Notes (by Alexia Moyer)

This passage from John Marlyn’s Under the Ribs of Death – set in Winnipeg’s North End – is a favourite of mine.

Those moments in which protagonist Sandor Hunyadi takes pride in his community’s output are few. This is one of them. There is no embarrassment or dissimulation here. This table of delicacies the result of the skill, generousity and ingenuity of Frau Hunyadi and her neighbours – is not found wanting. There is only pleasure and satiety.

Admittedly, I also chose this passage because I wanted to make goulash. Or, more precisely, eat it.

I started with 3 peppers, chopped.

5 cloves of garlic, minced.

2 yellow onions, diced.

6-8 chicken thighs, cut into small, bite-sized chunks.

1 500ml can of plum tomatoes.

3 generous tablespoons of paprika.

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Once the vegetables are softened and the meat is browned, add enough water to cover meat and vegetables and simmer on stove for a couple of hours.

Here are some alternatives: add two tablespoons of ground caraway seeds. Bake in oven. My current oven is more toaster than oven, hence the stovetop.

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You’ll note that my bowl of goulash is considerably smaller than the one of Marlyn’s making. This is because I ate much of my subject before remembering to pull out my camera.

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