Herzog Goulash – My Cherished Canadian Recipe

Family. What really does that word mean? To me, it means people that stick together no matter what. People who love you for who you are and in spite of who you are. They are people you can count on when your world turns upside down or sideways. For me, shared meals have always been a time when we can all sit together and bond over food that has been cooked for us with love. We each have our quirks and faults but there never seems to be anything that a bit of love and understanding can’t overcome.  No matter how busy or challenging our lives get, we can lean on each other for support.

After I became a mother I realized the family mealtime meant so much now more than it had ever before. It didn’t matter who was in soccer or dance, karate, hockey, or football. I always make it a point to have everyone home together for at least one meal a day. Eating together is always interesting and admittedly sometimes we are all so hungry not a lot is being said but at least we were eating together at that one moment of time. Once, when the kids were smaller, hubby and I toyed with the idea of getting each kid to research a topic for discussion that they would lead at the dinner table. Topics could have included anything from sports to current events to Dr. Who. We got this idea from hubby’s grandparents who did this with their 8 children. Of course, they were all quite close in age so I can just imagine how frenzied the dinner discussion must have been on some evenings. I’ve had the interesting experience of dining with his whole family and I’ll admit it was a bit intimidating.  The family table conversation of my youth was pretty low key. We never really followed through on this idea for our own little family as our conversation always seems to take on it’s own.

This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting our extended family Thanksgiving. We’ve realized now that we are all older (and mostly married) that having holidays together is never a given so not having my dad and  youngest sibling there was a bit hard on everyone, especially my little sister.  Everyone arrived on Thursday night within a couple of hours of each other, each carload traveling from an opposite direction to converge upon my house in Calgary. I thought a lot about our first meal together. It had to be something relatively easy, delicious, and not to exotic as there are a couple of ‘traditionalist’ in the crowd (and yes, that is a nice word for picky). Dinner also had to be something my other sister could eat as she is on a very strict dietary program for her health. I’m not always sure what she can eat but I know she can eat meat so I picked our family’s favourite, Herzog Goulash.

Herzog Goulash is a simple meat dish that has been made in our family for generations. It is a recipe that was passed down to us from at least our great grandparents, through our grandpa Herzog. It’s a very frugal dish, with very few ingredients and it is best when made with wild meat of any sort. I’ve had it with moose, elk, deer, goose, kangaroo, and yes, even beef. The meat is usually in large cubes which is slow cooked in a heavy pot with salt, pepper, tomato paste, vinegar, garlic and onions.  The smell of goulash cooking as I walked into grandma’s kitchen has always immediately sent my taste buds to salivating mode.

goulash

Herzog Goulash is a dish that to me is the comfort of family, and home. The first time I left home was for university. I lived on campus so I had no way of cooking my own food. Visits back to the farm were reserved for holidays and I always made sure to let the family and especially grandpa know I was coming home. It became tradition for him to thaw out the goulash meat whenever he knew I was back for a visit and so eventually I never even had to tell him I was coming. Coming home and goulash became synonymous. When I finally had a kitchen of my own, I received a family cookbook of recipes lovingly gathered by my Aunt Mary Jean. Most of the recipes are of German origin and include family favourites from her side of the family and of my Uncle Glen’s side. So, yes, it included Herzog Goulash. Over the years there have been a couple of failed attempts and many triumphs but mostly now I have the recipe down to an art. When we were homesick and living in Australia I found kangaroo meat one day at the shop and just had to have a go at making kangaroo goulash. I called grandpa and he was quite tickled, though if you’ve met my grandpa you would know he is a man that does not get ‘tickled’. Maybe impressed is more like it. Anyway the kangaroo goulash was a bit hit, though if I am really being honest it only made us more homesick.

goulash2

The goulash was exactly as I had hoped it would be. Just enough garlic and tomato flavour and the meat just fell apart in our mouths. It is usually served with rice but I guess probably back in the day there would have been home made noodles or mashed potatoes involved. It was a great ‘welcome to my home’ dish…a little too welcoming because everyone was tired we all shoved off to bed with full tummies. We still had a whole weekend left for visiting…yay!!

The Canadian Food Experience Project began on June 7 2013. As we (participants) share our collective stories through our regional food experiences,  we hope to bring global clarity to our Canadian culinary identity.

Wild Meat Goulash

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Wild Meat Goulash

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0.0 rating
  • GF
  • DF
This slow cooked Wild Meat Goulash is a family heirloom recipe. Rich and gamey, this stew is a perfect way to showcase wild game.
  • Difficulty:Easy
  • Prep Time:15 mins
  • Cook Time:240 mins
  • Serves:8
  • Freezable:Yes

Nutrition per portion

    Ingredients
    • 2 lbs Goose, Venison, Elk, Moose or other wild stewing meat
    • 6 cloves garlic; smashed and roughly chopped
    • 1 large onion; sliced
    • 1 small can tomato paste
    • 2/3 can vinegar (use tomato paste can)
    • 2/3 can oil
    • Salt and Pepper
    Method
    1. Mix chunks of wild stewing meat, onions, garlic, salt and pepper, and tomato paste in a heavy earthernware or Le Creuset braiser.
    2. Pour vinegar and oil over all.
    3. Cover and bake in a 275 F oven for 4 hours or until the meat falls apart.
    4. Enjoy over mashed potatoes, noodles, or rice.

    13 comments

    1. Bookabye Baby

      What a lovely story. I really must write down some of my mother’s recipes some day soon. It’s amazing how the smell of a certain meal will cast your mind back to family events or occasions.

      Reply

      1. dishnthekitchen

        Yes, and the family cook book is definitely cherished. Our Aunt is no longer with us after a long battle with cancer. I’m glad she took the time to compile it as she was the busiest farm wife I ever knew! She did everything from planting Saskatoons to birthing calves.
        Don’t put off recording those recipes for sure!

        Reply

    2. ladyredspecs

      A lovely sentimental post. What a wonderful reason to cook a heritage dish, the way I see it you had little choice!

      Reply

      1. dishnthekitchen

        Yeah, that’s true. It was a no brainer 🙂

        Reply

    3. A Canadian Foodie

      This is an incredible recipe and I completely understand the cherishing part… my husband is from the former Yugoslavia and they have a different way of making goulash that I also cherish. I cannot wait to try yours. It looks like a dish my husband would love! I enjoyed the read and your story, as well. Am tickled you are a part of our project!
      🙂
      Valerie

      Reply

    4. dishnthekitchen

      I know that goulash means something different for everyone. Ours is pretty basic but there are versions out there with vegetables.

      Reply

    5. redrice57

      My god fathers – that looks fantastic!

      Reply

      1. dishnthekitchen

        Glad you like it. Not a very interesting or easy thing to photograph. But very easy to eat 😉

        Reply

    6. foodisthebestshitever

      That looks effing awesome. Slow cooked meaty goodness is the shit where ever you’re from!!

      Reply

    7. cathyandchucky

      Ooh must give the Skippy (kangaroo) goulash a go seeing as I live in Australia. We see a lot of Kangaroo in the meat section at the supermarkets now so it is easier to get. Thank you for sharing 😀 Our mutual Germanic heritage does love a good family feed.

      Reply

      1. dishnthekitchen

        yes, do try it with the skippy 😉

        Reply

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