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Hungarian Beef Stew

September 23, 2013

By Kath Dedon


A little Hungarian Wax Chile Pepper from Laura and Byron’s garden inspired me to try this new recipe – Hungarian Beef Stew.

I first thought I wanted to make Hungarian Goulash but after doing some online searching I realized that Hungarian Goulash is more of a soup. I wanted a stew, so I was actually more interested in Pörkölt. The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook had just the right recipe.


 Hungarian Beef Stew served over noodles

Hungarian Beef Stew


The main ingredients of an authentic Hungarian Beef Stew are boneless beef, onions, and sweet Hungarian paprika. Cook’s Illustrated advised against using a hot, or a smoky Spanish paprika. And because paprika is such a key ingredient in the recipe, it’s best to get a new container instead of using an old one that has lost its flavor. Knowing nothing about Hungarian paprika, I simply chose the one brand that was available at my store. (I keep all of my varieties of paprika in the refrigerator to help them stay fresh longer.)

Hungarian Paprika

Bob and I both really enjoyed this Hungarian Beef Stew. It’s easy to make, but it takes some time for the long braise. This isn’t a recipe I would cut in half because the leftover stew tastes really terrific. I served it over noodles the first night and served leftover stew over smashed Yukon gold potatoes. It was delicious both ways!


Hungarian Beef Stew

(Adapted from a recipe in The Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook)


A tight-fitting lid on your pot is essential for this success of this recipe. You don’t want the liquid to escape and evaporate. My Le Creuset Dutch oven worked fine. If your lid does not seal your pot well, cover the pot with a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil before putting the lid on.


(print the recipe)


Serves 6


1 (3½ – 4-pound) boneless beef chuck eye roast, pulled apart at the seams, trimmed, and cut into 1½-inch pieces

Salt and pepper

1/3 cup Hungarian sweet paprika

1 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed and patted dry

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 tablespoons oil (I used light olive oil.)

4 large onions (about 2½ pounds), chopped fine

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds

1 bay leaf

If needed: Up to 1 cup beef broth (I did not need it.)


1. Put the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325˚.

2. Toss the beef with 1 teaspoon of salt and let it sit for 15 minutes.



3. Process the paprika, roasted peppers, tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons of vinegar in a food processor. (My mini-prep food processor worked fine.)

4. Stir the onions, oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt together in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium low heat for about 8 – 10 minutes, or until the onions have softened but have not started to brown.


It’s a lot of onions, but they don’t over-power in the final dish.


5. Add the paprika mixture to the pot and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 2 minutes.

Paprika added


6. Add the beef, carrots, and bay leaf to the pot and stir until the beef is well coated with the onion/paprika mixture.

7. Cover the pot and put it in the oven. Cook for about 2½ hours, stirring the stew every 30 minutes.

8. At this point, stir in just enough beef broth so the liquid is ¼ inch from the top of the meat. (When I made it, the liquid was already about ¼ inch below the top, so the beef broth wasn’t necessary.)

9. Put the pot back in the oven and continue to cook for about 30 more minutes. By this time the beef should be fork-tender.

10. Skim any excess fat from the top of the stew. Remove the bay leaf and stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

11. Serve over egg noodles or boiled and smashed potatoes.


 The lovely little Hungarian wax pepper that inspired me was not used in the stew. We enjoyed it  cut up in our salad.  🙂

Hungarian Wax Chile Pepper


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