Hungarian Beef Stew

Hungarian beef stew with caraway

Hungarian beef stew with caraway seeds photo by vsimon

No, the caraway seeds are not negotiable.

This started as a recipe called Hungarian Goulash from Cooking Light. To me it is really more stew than goulash.

“Goulash” to Wisconsinites is a mishmash of ground beef, tomatoes (maybe canned tomato soup), and macaroni. Seasoning is limited to salt and pepper, possibly an onion. It showed up at every potluck supper, and was never very appealing to me.

This version is far superior. Big chunks of tender beef and potatoes, bathed in lively sauce. Yes there is caraway, and the very Hungarian paprika, finished with fresh lemon juice and zest. Your mouth will thank you!

It didn’t take much to make this original recipe gluten free. I simply used sweet rice flour in place of wheat flour to thicken the gravy.

Deceptively useful information

It is so useful, I want to repeat that ingredient information from above. Get yourself some sweet rice flour and swap it out in every recipe that thickens a sauce with wheat flour.

We use it all the time, for all clients. Even ones that do not need to be gluten free. It works better than wheat flour. And freezes (and thaws) better than cornstarch. No lumps, clumps, or weeping. Simply make a slurry with water or other liquid in the recipe and stir it in.

Sweet rice flour is sometimes called glutinous flour, because it is sticky when cooked. This is an unfortunate name, and it is gluten free.

I can get it in my regular grocery store in the ethnic aisle. Be sure to read the label though. I have grabbed plain white rice flour by mistake. It does not thicken like sweet rice flour.

And the brand in my grocery store comes in a plastic bag. Touching it gives me the same response as nails on a chalkboard. Watch, I’ll shutter. It is so dry, and some how sounds a bit crunchy in the bag.

I buy this in a pinch. But when I can plan ahead, I buy Mochiko brand sweet rice flour in a box. At a big ethic grocery three towns over. It doesn’t make me cringe when I grab the package. I buy 5 or 6 boxes at a time.

Now back to the recipe at hand.

Hungarian Beef Stew

adapted from Cooking Light’s Hungarian Beef Goulash

serves 6-8 metric measures
1 1/2 pounds boneless chuck roast,
trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
700 gm
4 cups chopped onion 500 gm
1 pound red potato, cut into large pieces 450 gm
1 1/2 cups cooked down crushed tomatoes 435 gm
2 tablespoons paprika 20 gm
1 tablespoon vinegar 15 ml
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 2 gm
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, more for garnish 2 gm
1/4 cup sweet rice flour flour 40 gm
Zest and juice of 1 fresh lemon 1 medium

Brown beef cubes. Put beef and onions in pressure cooker. (See unpressured directions below).

Add 1 cup of water. Lock on lid, bring to pressure, and cook for 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile put potatoes in a medium saucepan covered with water. Cover pan and cook until tender about 20 minutes. Do not drain.

Allow pressure cooker to cool, slowly or quickly. Remove lid when pressure drops. Beef cubes will be melt in your mouth tender.

Add the tomatoes, paprika, vinegar, garlic powder, and caraway seeds to the pressure cooker.

Mix sweet rice flour with about 1/4 cup water. Stir until no lumps remain.

Add sweet rice flour slurry to the liquid in the pressure cooker. Cook until the sauce thickens, just a few minutes. Stir while doing this.

Add cooked potatoes and some potato water if the sauce is thicker than you like.

Zest the lemon and reserve.

Add the juice of the lemon to the stew. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.  

Garnish with a fragrant whiff of whole caraway seeds and fresh lemon zest.

Haven’t made friends with a pressure cooker yet?

No problem

Brown meat, add onions, and 1-2 cups water to a stock pot. Simmer for about an hour. Add raw potatoes and cook another 1/2 hour. Finish as above, adding more water if needed.

Make ahead?

Sure! This freezes well, make a big batch. Put into small containers with lids (1-2 servings each). Cool completely in the fridge.

Label and date every container, I know you will.


Thaw overnight in the fridge.

Warm in the microwave for just a few minutes per serving.

Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten Free

Hungry for other international stew recipes? Check out this month’s Go Ahead Honey, it’s Gluten Free recipe roundup. Laura at Mouthgasmic hosts, thanks Laura!

What is your favorite winter stew?

Dairy Full Mac and Cheese


dairy full mac and cheese photo by vsimon

The stuff in the blue box is the cheesiest? I don’t think so. A powdered cheese packet just cannot compare.

We like this adult version of gluten free, dairy full, mac and cheese. It really is cheesy, sharp cheddar cheesy. And we live in Wisconsin, so our cheddar is orange.

This mac and cheese also has a kick of spicy cayenne. But to keep peace in the family, you can make it kid friendly with mild cheddar and no spice.

Can I make it low lactose? Lactose and I are not friends.

Sure, easily. Use lactose free milk. Cheddar is naturally very, very low in lactose.

What other kinds of milk can I use?

Regular, low fat, fat free, they all work. But since this is dairy full mac and cheese, use cow’s milk.

Sweet rice flour

This sauce is thickened with sweet rice flour. Also known as glutinous rice flour. Do not be alarmed, it does not have any gluten.

It is called glutinous rice because it is sticky when it is cooked. And the flour thickens sauces beautifully. I use it for all clients, even those who are not gluten free.

It just works better than wheat flour. Especially if you are freezing (and thawing) a saucy dish. It does not curdle, weep, or separate after it is thawed.

Make extra

So make a bunch, put into individual containers with lids and freeze for future comfort. Thaw overnight in the fridge and warm in the microwave for just a few minutes.

Add veggies

We often roast cherry tomatoes and serve them on top of the mac and cheese. That is REALLY a good idea. Roasted mushrooms are great too.

Macaroni and Cheese

Serves 4 metric measures
8 oz gluten free pasta 225 gm
2 cups milk 480 ml
2 tablespoons sweet rice flour 10 gm
1 teaspoon salt 5 gm
¼ tsp cayenne, optional generous pinch
2 cups (8 oz) shredded sharp cheddar cheese 225 gm

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

In another saucepan, make a white sauce. Stir together milk, sweet rice flour, salt, and cayenne if using. Cook over medium heat until thickened.

Remove pan from the burner and add the cheese. Stir until melted.

Add pasta to cheese sauce, mix well. Serve it up!

mac_cheese (2)

ready to dig in? photo by vsimon