Traditional Romanian Food: Pork Goulash

posted in: Destinations, Lunch, Recipes, Romania | 4

Traditional Romanian Food Pork Goulash compassandfork.comPork goulash is a traditional Romanian food that is easy to make. Move over Hungary, great Romanian goulash is another classic goulash to watch out for!

Classic goulash is rightfully popular all over the world. A not too spicy goulash, toned down with some sour cream, is one of the world’s great tastes. A recipe for goulash can incorporate beef, veal, lamb or pork. The seasoning for goulash and the meat selected, account for some of the local differences between a goulash made in Hungary and other Eastern European countries like Romania.

Classic goulash might be the national dish of Hungary, but it is also a traditional Romanian food, paying homage to its shepherding past.

And what to serve with goulash? There are so many great options. Mashed potato, pasta, rice – and our choice – polenta.

Where Did Goulash Originate?

Where did goulash come from? There is no secret to this one. There is a reason a traditional Hungarian goulash recipe, is the national dish of Hungary.

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Traditional Romanian Food Pork Goulash compassandfork.comWhat’s goulash? A traditional goulash recipe is a thick stew first made by Hungarian shepherds when away from home, incorporating meat, vegetables and spices. The main spice for goulash is paprika with other spices playing a supporting role.

An authentic goulash recipe has a substantial amount of agricultural history behind it. The origin of goulash dates to a time when herdsmen or shepherds would be away for months at a time, usually all-male groups of 4 to 6 shepherds looking after the herd.  The meat would be cooked, spiced and dried before leaving home. The simple addition of water makes for a thick stew that could be quickly put together at the end of the day. You can read more about the origin of goulash here.

A traditional goulash recipe always includes paprika. Seasoning for goulash requires paying some attention to what variety of paprika you are using. A quick trip to a good grocery store, confirms there are many varieties of paprika to choose from. Do you want a spicy goulash or are you after a classic goulash with a milder taste?

If you are looking to replicate a classic goulash recipe I would go for “Hungarian paprika”, “smoky paprika” or “sweet paprika”. They will all deliver slightly different results. The best all round choice is “Hungarian paprika”, if you love a smoky taste go for “smoky paprika”. “Sweet paprika” is the mildest choice. You can read more about paprika here.

Once you know what paprika you are going to use, it is time to make our Romanian goulash, or more correctly, our pork goulash.

Traditional Romanian Food: Pork Goulash

Traditional Romanian Food Pork Goulash compassandfork.comThis authentic goulash recipe is a popular food in Romania. Pork goulash is easy to make and is all “set and forget”. All the work is up front making it an ideal dinner party food. There are no hard to source items to buy. Most people already have these ingredients in their kitchen.

And what to serve with goulash? In Romania, they serve it with Romanian polenta. Yes, polenta. Gluten-free, filling and a perfect base for soaking up all those lovely Romanian goulash juices. In fact, polenta is a popular Romanian food, maybe even more popular than in Italy. Using polenta as the answer to what to serve with goulash is a major point of difference from Hungarian goulash.

Have some fun with this dish. And remember, experiment with the spicing and ingredients. Use this recipe as a base for what you have in your kitchen!

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Traditional Romanian Food Pork Goulash compassandfork.com
Traditional Romanian Food: Pork Goulash
Print Recipe
Print Recipe
Here is a simple stew, moderately spiced. A classic from Eastern Europe.
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
6people 30minutes 2hours
Servings Prep Time
6people 30minutes
Cook Time
2hours
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Ingredients
Servings: people
Units:
Instructions
  1. In a heavy-based pan or dish with a lid over a moderate heat, add the olive oil and butter. Add the garlic and onions. Saute until softened, about 3 minutes. Then add the pork. Saute until the pork is browned on all sides.
  2. Add the paprika, bell pepper, carrot and drained but not rinsed sauerkraut, bay leaves, tomato paste (puree) and tomatoes. Stir well to combine. When at a simmer, turn the heat to low and allow to simmer, covered for 1 hour. Remove the lid, and allow to simmer for a further hour.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve over the top of creamy mashed potatoes or polenta or pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley.Traditional Romanian Food Pork Goulash compassandfork.com
Recipe Notes

We visited Bucharest as guests of #ExperienceBucharest, a five-day event featuring media and influencers from all over the world.

4 Responses

  1. Yum! Love the history about the goulash as well – I didn’t know it used to be a shepherd’s dish but that makes a lot of sense!

    • Editor
      | Reply

      The history of individual dishes certainly is an interesting food topic. Goulash is so well known and eaten all around the world, so good to have some historical perspective.

  2. Such an interesting history on goulash & I find it fascinating that the shepherds prepped the meat before they left home. This is such a lovely goulash and, while it is a stew, I think it would taste great spooned over top some quinoa.

    • Editor
      | Reply

      Thanks for your comment Lynn. There are so many great accompaniments for this dish. I like your idea on quinoa. Then there are other options like the polenta featured here but also mashed potato, pasta and rice is also a good option.

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