17/09/2014

What is goulash?

Rich, red, sweet and spicy, goulash is one of the most popular meat stews in the world. Originating from the medieval kingdom of Hungary, the dish first gained popularity amongst cattle herders, who would roam the plains with their herds. In fact, the Hungarian word for herdsman is ‘gulyás’, which is where the word ‘goulash’ comes from. The herdsmen would cook this dish in big cast iron pots strung on tripods over open fires – it was simple fare that travelled well, suiting their nomadic lifestyle.

goulash

At its most basic, goulash contains little other than meat, onion, water and lots of sweet Hungarian paprika, which is what gives it the rich colour and warm spiciness it’s renowned for. Later additions include green pepper, garlic, tomato and caraway seeds, perhaps with some other vegetables thrown in. In Hungary, it’s still served as both a soup and a stew, although the thicker, richer stew versions are more popular elsewhere – it’s a staple of many places, including most of eastern Europe.

The meat can be beef, pork, veal or even wild boar – usually the parts of the animal that need long, slow cooking, to render the fat and sinew into a deliciously rich gravy. Traditional accompaniments vary according to where you are, but include small egg noodles called ‘csipetke’, diced potatoes, large dumplings or rice. A dollop of sour cream on the top is nearly always popular!

Bistro dishes

Here at Donald Russell, we’ve been inspired by those Hungarian herdsmen, and created our very own Pork Goulash as part of our range of Pork Casseroles. Gloriously rich, warming and satisfying, it’ll only take a taste to see why the recipe has stuck around for over a thousand years!

Yours aye,

Corrie

Posted by Corrie in NEW to Donald Russell   |  Leave a comment
15/09/2014

Sometimes the simple things really are the best. Our wonderful Minced Steak, made with the offcuts of our premium steaks and roasts, is one of our most versatile products – the list of things you can do with it is practically endless! But, there’s one dish that is guaranteed to get a wistful ‘mmmmm’ whenever it’s mentioned up here – the humble ‘mince & tatties’.

It’s so simple, we’re not sure why it’s not better known worldwide. Think of it as a deconstructed Cottage Pie, if you like. Every family will have their own little secret additions – see below – but the basic recipe goes something like this:

Mince & Onion

Finely dice an onion, and fry gently till it’s soft. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat up a bit, and crumble your mince (about one of our 440g packs per onion) into the hot pan. Break it up with a wooden spoon, and brown it all over. Do this in batches if necessary – you don’t want to crowd the pan, or the mince will stew rather than browning nicely. The caramelized meat really adds to the end flavour – don’t stint on this bit! You’ll only need to add a tiny bit of oil, if any – the fat in the mince should do the rest.

Add the onion back to the pan, and some hot water or beef stock. You don’t want to drown the mince – just cover the meat and no more; it will boil down and thicken up as the mince cooks. You can top it up later if need be. A heaped teaspoon of marmite at this stage really adds to the beefy flavour … you could even add some gravy granules if you like, although some purists may frown at this!

Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, and cook, leaving the lid off, for half an hour or so. Use this time to prepare your tatties – either simple new potatoes, boiled in their skins, or fluffy, buttery mash. (Is your mouth watering yet?)

When the mince gravy has thickened, check it for seasoning – the marmite will add some salt, but you may need a little more, and some pepper to taste. And that’s it. Serve, with the tatties, for a really simple, homely, tasty dinner.

Mince & Tatties

Some of our favourite tweaks:

Dice or slice a couple of carrots, and add them as you brown the onion – they add a wonderful sweetness.

Throw in some frozen peas just before serving the mince – they only need to defrost and come up to heat.

Find small, individual white puddings – ‘mealie jimmies’, as they’re known up here – and cook them with the mince as it simmers. Cut open the skins when you serve up, and scoop out the soft, oatmeal filling into the mince – delicious. Or, as we’d say up here again – ‘fit rare!’

Yours aye, Corrie

Posted by Corrie in Beef, Lamb & Pork, Cooking Tips & Recipes, NEW to Donald Russell   |  Leave a comment

Summer seems to have made a very rapid exit up here in Aberdeenshire! Just when we’d got in the way of setting up the barbecue, as well … luckily, the principles of marinating work just as well indoors as out in the fresh air.

We usually marinate meat for two reasons – to add flavour and to tenderize it.

No marinade will turn a tough, chewy piece of meat into a tender fillet – but hey, this is the Donald Russell blog. You’re obviously not in the habit of buying chewy meat! The fact remains, though, that some cuts have more of a bite to them than others, and these can benefit from a steep in something tasty.

Ribeye and Marinated Pork

There are three main ingredients that help to tenderize meat. First, anything acidic – think citrus juice, vinegar, wine. This breaks down some of the muscle fibres, leaving the meat softer. It’s best not to leave meat in a really acidic marinade for too long, though, or it can actually have the opposite effect of drawing out moisture.

Some ingredients, like ginger, papaya and pineapple, have enzymes that help to tenderize the meat. I’m not entirely sure that the fruity flavours work too well with red meat, however, and they can also end up making the meat a bit mushy, so use these with care.

Sirloin Steak and BBQ Food

The last tenderizing ingredient is dairy, such as yogurt or buttermilk. This works beautifully, but no-one is quite sure why! It could be that the calcium activates the meat’s own enzymes, which break down the proteins in the same way that aging does.

So – the best marinades include something acidic or some dairy, usually with some oil and some flavourings. Add whatever takes your fancy – garlic, cumin, mustard, Soy Sauce, paprika – even tomato ketchup works in small doses. Rosemary is fabulous with steak – crush it or chop it finely to release the aromatic oils. Watch the total salt content, though – it will draw out moisture, and is best added either just before or after cooking. A high sugar content can burn easily – go gently! You can also make a paste or just a dry spice rub if you prefer – our own Perfect Seasoning is ideal.

BBQ Food and Sirloin

Get as much of the meat as possible in contact with your marinade, and leave it for a few hours, if you have time, in the fridge. A Ziploc bag is a good tip here – put marinade and meat inside, squeeze the excess air out and give it a wee massage – perfect.

Before cooking, allow the meat to come to room temperature and pat it dry with kitchen paper, otherwise it won’t brown very well. You can brush on a little more marinade as it cooks, but if you want to use the leftover marinade as an accompaniment, boil it up for a few minutes first – it’s been in contact with raw meat.

Here’s one of my favourite marinades for steak:

  • • Olive oil – about a cup
  • • A good glug of red wine (cheapo cooking wine is fine)
  • • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • • A tablespoon of Mushroom Ketchup (or Worcester Sauce)
  • • A few drops of Tabasco
  • • A couple of teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • • 1 sprig of rosemary, bruised

Why not tell us about your own favourites on our Facebook page?

Yours aye,

Corrie

Posted by Corrie in Beef, Lamb & Pork, Cooking Tips & Recipes, NEW to Donald Russell   |  Leave a comment