by Lucas Hollweg from These Delicious Things by Jane Hodson, Lucas Hollweg and Clerkenwell Boy (Harper Collins)
Photography: Tara Fisher & Patricia Niven
All proceeds of this book go to the charity 'Magic Breakfast'
My German grandfather, Mops was an avid winter sportsman, who had learnt to ski during his schooldays in Switzerland and, as a young man, played ice hockey in the Winter Olympics. In the 1960s, he built a holiday house in the Austrian Alps and, as children, we would come every couple of years for a fortnight in the snow. The chalet smelt of ski wax and pine resin, with a tiled stove in the sitting room and a checked tablecloth on the kitchen table.
Fifty years later, I still find myself craving the deep-pile comfort of Goulash. My version is more stew than soup – and, in truth, peppers, horseradish and pickles never featured back then. But it shares its heart with those childhood bowlfuls, a link, somehow, to those much-missed members of my family and the Germanic part of me – to an innocent time of gingerbread and hut socks, tasselled hats and snowplough turns.
4 red peppers (or 6-8 long romero peppers)
900g boneless shin of beef, trimmed of external fat and cut into rough 3cm cubes
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
150g rindless dry-cured smoked streaky bacon (preferably from a whole slab), cut into lardons
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 whole cloves
2-3 bay leaves
leaves from 4 bushy sprigs of thyme
6 juniper berries, flattened
1 heaped tbsp tomato purée
1 heaped tbsp sweet paprika (not smoked), plus extra for sprinkling
a decent pinch cayenne pepper
2 tsp caraway seeds
200ml red wine
150ml good beef stock
1½ tbsp red wine vinegar
dill pickled cucumbers, sliced, to serve
fresh dill, to serve
For the horseradish cream
250ml thick crème fraîche
¼ of a horseradish root (or more to taste) peeled
1-2 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Start with the horseradish cream. Grate the horseradish into a bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Fold through the crème fraîche until combined, then season well with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar. Add more vinegar and horseradish to taste. Put in the fridge until needed.
Heat the grill on its highest setting. Put the peppers in a roasting tin, place under the grill and cook, turning often, until blistered on all sides. Place in a bowl and cover tightly with foil or clingfilm. Leave to steam for 20 minutes, then peel off the skins and remove the seeds. Slice or tear the flesh into strips about 1cm wide and place in a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 150C/130C Fan/Gas 2.
On the hob, heat the oil in a cast-iron casserole dish (big enough to hold all the ingredients). Season the beef generously with salt and pepper and cook in batches over a medium heat until lightly browned. Scoop out and add to the peppers, leaving the oil in the pan.
Throw in the lardons and cook over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes until they start to brown, then mix in the onions and a pinch of salt and cook for about 10 minutes until soft and sweet. Stir in the garlic, thyme, cloves, juniper and bay and cook for 5 minutes more.
Mix in the tomato purée, paprika, cayenne and caraway, stir over the heat for 2-3 minutes, then add the beef and peppers. Tip in the red wine, vinegar and stock – the meat should be just covered when pushed into the liquid. Season well and cover the surface with a circle of greaseproof paper. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and place in the oven. Leave to cook for 2½ – 3 hours, or until the meat is on the verge of collapse. Taste and season – don’t be shy with the salt. Add a little more vinegar if you feel it needs it. Leave to cool and put in the fridge overnight – it will be better for it.
Next day, bring it back to a simmer on the hob and bubble gently until warmed through. Ladle into deep bowls and top with a blob of the horseradish cream, some sliced dill pickles, a sprinkling of dill leaves and a light dusting of extra paprika. Serve with good bread for dunking and mopping.
Lucas Hollweg is a food writer, cook and feast maker, and author of Good Things to Eat.