Savor the Season with Slow-Simmered Pork Goulash

There is a pink Pyrex casserole dish in my mom’s kitchen. To see it in the oven is a sure sign that one of our family’s most beloved meals is on the menu: goulash. My brothers and I are convinced that mom’s goulash does not taste the same if it is baked in any other dish. It certainly doesn’t taste as good when we try to make it ourselves. Made with simple ingredients and an uncomplicated process, we still marvel at our inability to fully replicate this comforting meal.

Goulash ingredients.

In this recipe, a pork roast is braised with abundant vegetables from the garden, seasoned with sweet and sharp paprika, and served over egg noodles. Photo credit: Anita McVey/Picnic Life Foodie

Imagine my confusion after proudly presenting a pretty close replica of this dish to my husband. His reaction was mostly disappointment. The words every wife dreads hearing came out of his mouth, “That’s not how my mom makes goulash. Goulash is a soup, not a casserole!” It wasn’t that he didn’t like the casserole; he just expected something else.

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines goulash as “a stew made with meat, assorted vegetables and paprika.” Hungary is most often credited as the place of origin, typically using beef or pork, onions and the smoky-sharp paprika of the region. Noodles or mashed potatoes are typically served alongside or as a base for this hearty meal.

Pork is the star of the show in this goulash recipe! Photo credit: Anita McVey/Picnic Life Foodie

Versions of this dish are served throughout Europe, using ingredients common to the region. Some areas add red wine or beer to the braising process. Mushrooms, legumes (e.g., kidney beans) and even sauerkraut make appearances in various goulash recipes. Although egg noodles seem to be the most common stew base, options like potato cakes and polenta have piqued my curiosity.

Asking a Midwesterner about his or her favorite goulash will most likely elicit a response with some or all of the following ingredients: macaroni, tomato juice/soup, ground beef,  peppers, onions and even cheese. Asking 10 Midwesterners this question will probably result in 10 different recipes and an argument over whose mom makes it best!

Entering the season of harvest and cooler weather, we crave hearty, comforting meals. In October, we will celebrate National Pork Month and making this goulash is a celebration in itself! In this recipe, a pork roast is braised with abundant vegetables from the garden, seasoned with sweet and sharp paprika, and served over egg noodles.


Pork-inspired goulash is sure to be a family favorite. Photo credit: Anita McVey/Picnic Life Foodie

Slow-Simmered Pork Goulash

3-pound pork roast, trimmed and cubed

½ cup flour

2 teaspoons salt, divided

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons paprika, divided (see note below)

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1-2 cups diced yellow onion

1 cup diced carrots

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced bell pepper

2 bay leaves

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)

½ teaspoon ground mustard

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 cup red wine

1 cup diced celery

4 cups cubed tomatoes

1 cup water

12 ounces egg noodles, cooked as directed

Sour cream or Greek yogurt

Fresh chives or green onions

Dry pork cubes on paper towels and place in a bowl, discarding paper towels. Combine flour, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper and 1 tablespoon paprika. Dredge pork cubes in flour mixture. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add half of the pork to the hot oil/butter and brown on all sides (pork should sizzle when it hits the pan). Remove browned pieces and repeat with remaining olive oil, butter and pork cubes.

Reducing heat to low, sauté onions, carrots and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add bell pepper and sauté 2 minutes. Add bay leaves, crushed red pepper (optional), remaining paprika, remaining salt, ground mustard, oregano, Worcestershire sauce and red wine. Bring to a simmer, stirring constantly to release the browned bits leftover from the pork. Simmer 2-3 minutes or until the liquid thickens, forming a sauce. Stir in celery, tomatoes and water. Cover Dutch oven and simmer for 5 minutes. Add pork, stir, replace lid and simmer over low heat for 90 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Pork should be tender and break apart easily with a fork.

Remove bay leaves and discard.

Serve over egg noodles with sour cream (or Greek yogurt) and chopped, fresh chives (or green onions).

Note: Paprika can be sweet, smoky or sharp. A sharp Hungarian paprika adds wonderful depth and a little heat to the dish. Use a combination of paprika types to reach the desired flavor. Crushed red pepper provides a balance of heat when using only sweet paprika.