Ryan Thomas is a university student who enjoys cooking recipes from a wide variety of culinary traditions.
Although certainly not from the land of Saint Istvan, and bearing no heritage from that country traversed by the Danube, when my friend suggested the title of "goulash" for this recipe, it sounded like a perfect description of the heady melange of ingredients and flavors that constitute it. Unsure of what I wanted to make for dinner, after having rejected a previous (quite delicious, I must say, but for some reason not sounding in line with what I felt like that evening) idea of making a chicken and potato soup descended from an Indian cookbook, my mind wandered back to a rather superb memory of going to a Burmese restaurant (the first and only time in my life in which I have eaten that cuisine) and ordering a delightful mango beef dinner there.
Being in France, and of course not knowing the original recipe, I was sure that whatever I made would be far removed from that long-ago meal in the Burmese restaurant in San Francisco during my time at the Model UN there—not to mention the rapidly discovered lack of mangoes and the abundant and excessive supplies of creme fraîche which I needed to consume! Thus another modification arrived, and from mango beef, it became orange beef, fried seductively with onions and then laced with orange juice and what I am sure is my favorite cooking alcohol, Grand Marnier, before delighting in the addition of cinnamon, creme fraîche, tarragon, garlic... the host of spices combining together to flavor a rich sauce, flavored and flavoring the beef, sweet without any trace of sickly sweetness, vibrant and flavorful, the rich and contrasting flavors caressing the tongue.
For me, I decided it to be a great success, especially when served over couscous. Not quite, as the Hungarians would of course deny, goulash, but still bearing some sort of similarity of the soul, of a combination of ingredients that became more than the sum of their parts, built from improvisation and with a love of energy and vitality in the cuisine.
This recipe is entirely my own.
- 1 1/2 lb beef
- 4 onions
- 2 oranges
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 inches ginger
- 4 (large) cloves garlic
- 1 cup crème fraîche
- 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- dash of tarragon
- Chop the beef into appropriately sized cubes. Chop the onion finely. Zest the oranges then juice them, preserving both. In a large casserole, heat the oil until it is very hot, over high heat
- Sauté the beef in the oil shortly, until it is browned. Then add in the onions. Reduce heat somewhat and fry until the onions are softened and golden. Add in the orange zest, then the orange juice. Continue to cook over medium heat for several minutes.
- Add in the ginger, and then the garlic. Mix thoroughly. Add in the Grand Marnier, salt, pepper, cinnamon, tarragon, and the crème fraîche. It should be a very thick liquid with all of these additions. Adjust as necessary with additional crème fraîche.
- Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 1 hour, to allow the flavors to blend together.
© 2018 Ryan Thomas