Because grey pasta is quite obviously the way forwards...
I am so happy about the onset of autumn. I have a new bright red coat and a cosy cashmere cardi to keep me warm. I have picked up my knitting again, ready to curl up with it on the sofa in front of the telly. And I am totally ready to fill my kitchen with hearty warming stews, fruit cakes and lovely soups.
The choice of goulash was mainly inspired by the fact I hadn't touched my little tin of Spanish sweet paprika. Considering the airport officials made me actually taste the stuff (and paprika straight from the tin ain't nice, I can tell you), this was one ingredient I didn't want to be languishing in the back of the cupboard.
So, hearty warming stews + paprika = goulash. In fact, there really wasn't much more too to it: beef, garlic, paprika, cayenne, carrots, onions, stock. Whack it in the oven for a couple of hours. And there you are. And if you're still in love with your new pasta machine, make some pasta to go with it. Not sure they're traditional partners (the recipe says to serve with boiled potatoes or rice), but I thought they went together fantastically well. The meaty, smoky, slightly spicy sauce soaks into the pasta - and goes just slightly grey! To be honest, it probably doesn't help that I got carried away in the supermarket and bought purple carrots...
(Adapted from Juliya's Lithuanian Beef goulash in Forgotten Skills of Cooking by Darina Allen)
Makes two generous portions
440g stewing beef, cut into cubes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 tsp sweet paprika
pinch of cayenne (or a bit more if you want)
3 carrots (any colour you like!), chopped into small cubes
340ml beef stock
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/gas mark 2.
Put the beef in a bowl with the garlic, paprika, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Mix well and then put to one side.
Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and carrots until they're beginning to soften. Take them out of the pan. Add a little more oil and brown the beef quickly.
Put all the ingredients in a casserole. (My somewhat erratically equipped kitchen doesn't have a casserole dish, so I used an oven dish with some foil over the top.) In the original recipe, you put the casserole on the heat, but I didn't bother.
Put the flour in the frying pan with the heat still on, add the stock and stir to deglaze the pan. Add it to the rest of the ingredients. Put the casserole/oven dish in the oven and cook for 2-2½ hours. You're aiming for that wonderful falling apart tenderness of slow cooked beef.
When serving it with homemade pasta, I was originally going to pop the pasta onto the plate first, and then top it with the goulash. But Marcella Hazan is very strict about the importance of tossing your pasta with the sauce. And actually, she's damn right. It was amazing to see how the pasta drank up the quite runny sauce - and excellent not to waste any of those meaty juices!