I was going to put to good use my beautiful new bag of fresh Viennese (read: Hungarian-style) paprika from our trip. We were both very taken with the delicious gulasch we had tasted in Vienna and I knew from that first taste that this was something I wanted to recreate at home. I didn’t have to wait long – this miserable summer and its chilly nights was encouragement rather than a barrier to the making of a warm stew. Specifically, what I wanted was fiakergulasch, a specialty of Vienna where their beef gulasch (rindsgulasch) is topped with a frankfurter, a fried egg and sliced gherkins. I have no idea why it’s named for the horse carriages.

Fiakergulasch

But to make fiakergulasch, one must first start with rindsgulasch (beef gulasch). Rich, flavourful and just a little bit spicy, this stew is extremely comforting and strangely familiar. There’s an awe inspiring amount of chopped onions that naturally thicken the stew as well as an unfamiliar herb and spice – marjoram and caraway seeds – used; all combined to make something that I’ll definitely cook again. We ate the gulasch with its fork tender beef as it was the first day and used the leftovers on the second day to have fiakergulasch.

Wiener Rindsgulasch

In Vienna, a massive bread dumpling was served on the side; we chose to have our gulasch with boiled potatoes (tossed with butter and chives) one day and bread the next. As with the paprikash, try to use a Hungarian style paprika here; a Spanish pimenton would be all wrong.

Wiener Rindsgulasch
adapted from thepassionatecook.
serves 4.

1 kg stewing beef, cut into large chunks
1 kg onions, finely chopped
5-6 tbsp oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
4 tbsp Hungarian-style sweet paprika
1 tsp Hungarian-style hot or hot/sweet paprika
1.5 tsp dried marjoram
1.5 tsp caraway seeds
2 bay leaves
1 strip of lemon peel
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a large pot/saute pan over medium heat, add the oil and all the onions and fry until golden (it’s a large quantity of onion and this takes quite a while).

Add the garlic and tomato paste and fry for a few minutes. Throw in the paprika, stir well to combine (make sure it doesn’t burn) and then add in the white wine vinegar and stir up anything that’s stuck to the bottom of the pan. Add the meat and stir to combine and add the marjoram, caraway seeds, bay leaves and lemon peel and a little salt. Pour in 500ml of water.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the temperature until the mixture is at a simmer and let simmer, half covered, for 2 hours (stir occasionally). At the end of the 2 hours, the gulasch should be thick and much darker than it was at the beginning. Season to taste. Serve or to make fiakergulasch, follow the instructions below.

Like all stews, this gulasch keeps very well. There were only two of us and we saved half for the next day.

Fiakergulasch

Fiakergulasch

For each portion of rindsgulasch above:
1 egg
1 frankfurter
1 gherkin

Cut the gherkin in half lengthwise and then cut each half into a fan (slice lengthwise, keeping one end unsliced to hold the fan together). Keeping the middle part of the sausage intact, slice it into quarters lengthwise (see the photo). Throw it into boiling water for a few minutes, until it’s fully cooked and the sliced parts have curled up. (Optional: you could fry your sausage instead.) Fry the egg to your liking.

Plate your gulasch and top with the frankfurter, fried egg and fanned gherkin. Serve.

I have paprika on the mind. We’ve just come back from a short trip to Vienna and I picked up a bag of a lovely paprika in the hopes of making a gulasch at home soon. Coincidentally, I had already had a go at making chicken paprikash prior to my trip, not knowing that I was going to a land full of this magnificent spice.

Chicken Paprikash

I’ll have my Vienna posts up soon (I love going through the photos) but first, the chicken paprikash recipe. It’s spicy and creamy and rich and everything I was looking for that day. I chose to use chicken thigh fillets, thus cutting down on the cooking time and making it very suitable for a weeknight dinner. We had ours on rice but buttered noodles would be good too (and more traditional) and even bread would be excellent to sop up the sauce. Try to use a Hungarian paprika if you can find it – it’s flavour is totally worth it.

Chicken Paprikash
serves 3.

6 skinless, boneless chicken thigh fillets
flour
salt and freshly ground black pepper
sunflower oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tbsps Hungarian paprika, sweet or sweet-hot
2 tomatoes, chopped
350 ml chicken stock
50-100 ml sour cream

Heat about 200ml sunflower oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Mix flour, salt and black pepper in a shallow bowl and dust the thigh fillets in this mixture. When the oil is hot, fry the thigh fillets on both sides until browned. When browned (but not necessarily cooked through), drain and set aside.

Drain all but about 1 tbsp of oil in the saute pan and melt the butter in too. Add the chopped onion and fry until softened. Throw in the garlic and continue sauteing until the raw smell of the garlic becomes the mellow sweetness of cooked. Add the paprika and chopped tomatoes and continue frying for another few minute. Pour in the chicken stock and stir thoroughly to combine. Place the chicken thighs back into the saute pan and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pan, and let simmer for about 10 minutes, turning once halfway through. Stir through the sour cream (start with a bit and add more if you’re happy – I ended up using all 100ml as I felt like it!) and bring back to a simmer. Season to taste and serve on top of rice or buttered noodles or with bread.


At the end of June, I was asked if I’d like to take part in the shooting of an internet promo ad for the new Lenovo IdeaPad K1 Tablet. It sounded like fun – two days of filming and eating and just being myself really; it certainly did turn out to be fun and it was the production team who invited me to lunch at The Sportsman. A few days ago, the result was put up on YouTube. The video was made by the production team at HMX Media and filmed by Matt Uhry and it was terrific working with them all. A few of my photos from those two days can be found in this Flickr photoset.

Oooh, Spanish smoked paprika – it seems the world has discovered you! This is one of my favourite spices and I use it quite often in my cooking. Formally known as Pimentón de la Vera, this spice has a Protected Designated of Origin in the EU, which means that only the spice produced in Vera can be named as such. There’s also a Pimentón de Murcia (also with its own PDO), which is not smoked but roasted in the sun instead; I haven’t tried that one but am now keen! You might need to head to a specialty Spanish shop for it but it’s likely that when you get there, you’ll coo over all the adorable, colourful, little tins available. There are a couple of heat grades available; I’ve got one each of the mild and hot. Of course, when buying pimentón in Spain, you get a huge tin for not very much. My two tins have lasted me well over a year so far!

Mark Bittman of the New York Times recently blogged about it and the comments from readers provide a fabulous list of various ways in which to use the spice. Its most common usage in my household is with roast potatoes, wedges being my current favourite “shape”. I’m providing a recipe below but feel free to modify the shape, the number of potatoes, the amount of pimentón to your taste!

Results will vary depending on your potato type. I’ve had wedges that fell apart or stayed too moist or stuck vehemently to the baking tray. While I haven’t experimented with all the potato variesties out there, I’ve never failed with the Rooster potatoes from the supermarkets. Sweet potatoes are also fantastic with pimentón, the spicy smokiness blending with the sweet.

Pimenton Potato Wedges

Pimentón Potato Wedges

Line a baking tray or roasting tin with baking paper (they seem to stick less with this rather than foil). Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.

Scrub the potatoes clean, dry them of excess water and then slice them into wedges. I find it easiest to slice each potato into half and then slice each half into wedges. Toss them all into a large zip lock bag. Pour in some olive oil, a large pinch of salt, a good grind or ten of black pepper, and about a teaspoon or two of pimentón, sweet or hot or a mixture. Zip up the bag and give it a good toss around until everything is coated.

Pour the mixture onto the baking tray or roasting tin and try to lay them out in a single layer but it doesn’t hurt if they overlap a little. Roast them until they’re quite dry, turning the wedges once midway. This should take 40-50 minutes altogether, depending on the potato.

Serve! These are delicious by themselves or with a chili dipping sauce. Or try them as a side to some grilled steak – yum!

I’m submitting this post to the “think spice” meme this month as it’s on….paprika! It’s currently being hosted by Mimi on the Move. A full list of previous “think spice” events can be found on Sunita’s world.