Gaga’s Goulash fed many; now, here’s the recipe

I was moved by so many of your emails last week after my column about losing my grandmother.

So many of you had similar memories of your grandparents and are making those memories with your own grandchildren now. It’s always an honor to read your personal stories, so thank you for sharing them with me.

My grandmother, known in our family as Gaga, died in September. She made many batches of goulash for friends and neighbors, and it was one of her most requested recipes. Addie Broyles / American-Statesman

I didn’t have my grandma’s goulash recipe in time for last week’s print section, but enough of you requested it that I decided to publish it separately.

Like my grandmother, the recipe is short and to the point and assumes that you know a thing or two already. Cook the meat over medium-high heat in a large skillet that has a lid. Use the empty can of diced tomatoes (always one of those 14-ounce cans) to measure the water. My grandma didn’t list how long to simmer the tomatoes and ground beef, but my mom remembers it being about 10 minutes. If you simmer it for longer, you might not have enough water for the pasta shells, but that’s something you’ll just have to figure out as you go. Exactness was not my grandmother’s specialty, but patience and practicality were. If you have to add a splash or two of water or drain it if it’s too watery, just do it.

The last cooking tip, passed from my grandma to my mom to me to you, is make sure you have a jar of that Better Than Bouillon condensed bouillon in your fridge. My family still swears by that stuff. It’s as strong as Swedish coffee and will make your dumplings, and goulash, sing a song worthy of the angels making it.

American goulash is a mix of ground beef, tomatoes and pasta, and this version comes from Gonna Want Seconds. It looks similar to the one my grandmother used to make for friends and neighbors, especially after they’d lost someone special. Contributed by Gonna Want Seconds

Gaga’s Goulash

1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
3 to 4 teaspoons Williams chili seasoning
1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 can water
2 1/4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon beef broth
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 cup dried small pasta shells
Salt and pepper, to taste

Brown meat and onions. Add chili seasoning while browning hamburger. Add diced tomatoes, water, bouillon and sugar. Let cook, covered, about 10 minutes. Add shells and cover. Boil 10-12 minutes until done.

— Carolyn Cook


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