Thirty Minute Thursdays: Simple Beef Goulash

 The biggest dilemma I face surrounding this blog is whether or not I should post the recipes that don’t turn out absolutely perfect. On the one hand, I started this blog to document my journey in learning how to cook and bake really well. It’s inherent in that journey that I will encounter flops. I want to be honest with all of you and say that, yes, I have come a long way in the kitchen and I can cook and bake some pretty fantastic things, but sometimes I mess up, too. On the other hand, as the blog gains momentum and more people begin to stumble upon it, I wonder if maybe I should clean my act up a little bit and only take up your time with the recipes that are truly remarkable.

I’ve recently decided that a combination of those two scenarios are in order. If I make something and nail it the first time, of course I will share it with you. However, if I make something and it just isn’t quite there, I will work on it and tweak it until I do get it right (or decide that it’s not possible to “get right,” perhaps) – and then I will post about that recipe’s journey as well as my own. Maybe now and then I’ll mention a recipe that really was a total failure, just to keep things in perspective, but I genuinely feel that at this point in time, I need to step it up a notch. You deserve tried-and-true, amazing recipes – not just hodge podge, piecemeal endeavors that come close but ultimately miss their mark.

Unfortunately, I’m going to contradict myself and tell you today about a recipe that did miss its mark, just by a little. You see, it’s Thirty Minute Thursday and I don’t have any backlogged Rachael Ray recipes. So the only one I have wound up being a little bit lackluster, meaning I either needed to skip Thirty Minute Thursdays this week (which I try not to do) or tell you about it, anyway. I’m choosing the latter, especially since it certainly wasn’t  bad – my kitchen didn’t explode, no one got food poisoning, and everyone’s plates were clear by the end of the meal – but it just wasn’t as flavorful as I was anticipating. My dad actually loved it, actively, so I really shouldn’t write it off completely.

The recipe was for a beef goulash, a dish with which I’m not overly familiar. I was expecting a stew-like meat dish with pasta mixed in, something that you could really sop up with bread and revel in in the cold winter season (a quick Wikipedia search confirms that I was not, in fact, incorrect in this assumption). What I got was a dish that had the consistency more suited for a stuffed vegetable, and actually, when my mom brought that up it occurred to me how wonderful this goulash mixture would taste stuffed into an eggplant. The next time I try it, I will definitely serve it this way. I’ll also increase the spices, as they essentially got lost in the dish. We were all expecting a meal that was full of flavor, and it was much, much tamer than that. I’ve left the spices in the amounts I used, but if you’re looking for something with a lot of power, definitely increase them, and don’t be afraid to do it by a lot.

Simple Beef Goulash, adapted from Rachael Ray’s Classic 30 Minute Meals
Yield: 4-6 servings

The Ingredients
2 cups dry whole wheat rigatoni
1 ⅓ pounds lean ground (grass-fed) beef
1 medium white onion
1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
pinch of nutmeg
1-2 teaspoons dried marjoram
1 tablespoon dried oregano
14 ounces (no salt added) diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen chopped kale
2 rounded tablespoons plain greek yogurt or soygurt

The Method
Start the water for the pasta to heat, adding the pasta in once it reaches a rolling boil. Cook according to package directions, approximately 10-15 minutes once the water returns to a boil.

Meanwhile, add the ground beef to a large skillet over medium-high heat and brown.1 While the meat is cooking, grate the onion and add it to the skillet along with the beef. Also stir in the garlic, cumin, paprika, nutmeg, marjoram and oregano, followed by the tomatoes and kale. Heat the mixture through, then lower the heat or remove completely and stir in the yogurt. Drain the pasta and serve with a scoop or goulash on top and a side salad.

1I can only get 85% lean grass-fed beef, not 90%, so I drained my pan pretty significantly after the meat browned, despite the recipe not indicating to do so.


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