Warm up with easy-to-please goulash
Chef Olivia Simpson’s goulash recipe dates back to her grandmother, a social worker who immigrated to Canada from Hungary during the Second World War. It’s the hearty, one-pot meat and vegetable stew that the head chef at Hawthorne Food & Drink at Church and Richmond Sts. considers her go-to comfort dish.
“Her recipes are a huge part of myself and my food memories,” says Simpson, who took over the head chef position in June and previously cooked at famed New York City restaurants Mission Chinese Food, Dirt Candy and Blue Hill Farm. “All the flavour profiles are in here, but I added a bit more heat to give it more dimension, and substituted the parsley she would use with chives to give it a more onion-y bite.”
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Cooking savvy wasn’t the only thing Simpson inherited. Like her grandmother, Hawthorne works to benefit the community by partnering with the non-profit organization Hospitality Workers Training Centre, providing on-site kitchen training to unemployed youth and those who receive disability support from the province.
She’ll also be serving her grandmother’s goulash and another vegetarian version Saturday evening at the Evergreen Brick Work’s third-annual all-you-can-eat-and-drink fundraiser to support Feast On, a non-profit group that promotes local restaurants using Ontario-grown produce and meats.
Goulash comes in many variations based on region and even individual households. Some use beef, some add potatoes, while others add tomatoes or wine. Simpson’s Szekely Goulash, named after a territory in Romania largely populated by Hungarians and Romanians, is considered to be a Transylvanian goulash for its use of csabai, a fatty and spicy pork sausage with lots of Hungarian paprika, which is typically sweeter with a more intense bite than regular paprika.
Csabai can be found at Eastern European delis or at Blue Danube Sausage House in Mississauga, where they make their own. In lieu of csabai, any smoked or cured spicy sausage will do.
Olivia Simpson’s Szekely Goulash
3 tbsp (45 mL) lard or butter
1 lb (450 g) boneless pork loin, cut into 1-inch (2-1/2-cm) chunks
1 csabai sausage, sliced into thin rounds
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp (10 mL) caraway seeds
4 cups (1L) sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp (15 mL) hot Hungarian paprika, plus more to taste
1 tbsp (15 mL) sweet Hungarian paprika, plus more to taste
½ cup (125 mL) sour cream, plus more for garnish
Kosher salt, to taste
Chopped chives or parsley, for garnish
Pickled jalapenos, for garnish (optional)
In a large pot over medium heat, heat lard. Brown pork loin and sausage. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions turn soft and yellow. Stir in hot and sweet paprika and caraway seeds.
Add sauerkraut and stir until evenly coated with paprika. Cover with water and, using a wooden spatula, scrape fronds from bottom of pot. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for one or two hours, or until pork is fork tender. Remove lid. Stir in sour cream and continue to simmer until it reaches a thick consistency. Add salt and more hot or sweet paprika to taste.
Divide into serving bowls. Garnish with chives or parsley, a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of sweet paprika and pickled jalapenos, if using. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.