Who doesn’t love goulash? It’s beefy, cheesy, and full of deep herby, tomato flavor.
I want to call this a casserole. I don’t know – what do you think?
Whatever you call it, it’s the kind of dish that we grew up eating. Just like these stuffed cabbage rolls, this is old soul food that never goes out of style. In this version, you get all the familiar flavors in an enamel coated dutch oven for easy stove-top cooking.
No transferring the ground beef in and out required. Just timing and basic cooking techniques…
Star Ingredient: beef
Flavor Affinities: BEEF + TOMATO + CHEDDAR + ITALIAN SEASONING
Function: equal parts warming & cooling
Tastes: herby, savory, tangy
Textures: chewy, saucy
Wisdom: Cooking the ground beef and macaroni together in the seasoned tomato sauce results in the quintessential American casserole we all know and love.
How to Make Goulash
This is every bit a simple, crowd pleasing dish. You just throw everything together and let it cook for about 40 minutes total. Since a dutch oven works to distribute heat well – this is one of the fastest goulash recipes around.
The hardest part of the recipe is honestly remembering to scrape the bottom of the pan every so often to prevent burning. Other than that, it’s just layering the ingredients in the right order.
Ground Beef + Garlic
This forms the base layer of savory flavor:
- add ground beef directly to heated dutch oven with a pinch of salt + pepper
- cook mostly through (it’s ok if it’s a little pink)
- stir in minced garlic
I always like to add dry herbs and seasoning right after cooking meat and before adding sauce. This way, the seasoning gets more direct contact with the heat.
- bay leaves
- Italian seasoning (usually a combination of thyme, parsley, and oregano)
- more salt
This is where we simmer the tomato sauce a bit to work the flavors we just developed into the sauce (about 10 minutes).
Macaroni (Gluten Free Optional)
Unlike Italian cooking, goulash has more of a casserole quality because we cook the dried macaroni noodles directly in the tomato sauce.
Not Liable for Burning Tip: Ok, here’s the most important part. A dutch oven gets really hot on the bottom, making it great for quick, even cooking. Caveat: you must stir and scrape the bottom every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
Did you know that yellow cheese is died? I found this out semi-recently and switched to white cheddar ever since. Look for cheese that’s sold as a block and shred it yourself. Freshly grated cheese melts better and has more flavor.
Get ready for a pot full of cheesy, beefy deliciousness. Bring on the leftovers! Hope this reminds you of your mom’s homemade goulash:)
Dutch Oven Goulash
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- salt and pepper, see instructions
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 3 tbsp tamari, shoyu, or soy sauce
- 3 cups water
- 1 29-oz can tomato sauce, no salt added
- 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 2 cups elbow macaroni, uncooked
- 1 cup white cheddar cheese, freshly shredded (4 oz)
- fresh thyme, optional for garnish
- Cook ground beef in a large dutch oven over medium-high heat for 5 minutes until mostly cooked through. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add garlic and stir every so often, 2 minutes.
- Add bay leaves, Italian seasoning, tamari, and 1 tablespoon salt. Stir to distribute. Add water, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes. Put a lid on the pot and lower the heat to medium. Simmer the sauce for 15 minutes.
- Pour 2 cups dry macaroni to the pot, stir, and return the lid and simmer for 20-25 minutes (*use a wooden spoon to scrape the bottom of the pot and stir every so often to prevent the noodles from sticking and burning).
- Just before serving, remove the bay leaves and stir in the cheddar cheese. Garnish with fresh thyme for a little somethin' somethin'.
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