Beef Paprikash

With canned cream of mushroom soup.

The basic difference between a goulash and a paprikash (or gulyás and paprikás if you’re feeling particularly Hungarian) is that a paprikash will be thickened with flour and finished with sour cream, while a goulash never includes either. Oddly enough, that’s about the only orthodoxy we’ve managed to preserve from the original dishes.

While there were substantial waves of Hungarian immigration in the years around World War II and then again after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, the first wave of Hungarian immigrants arrived in the second half of the 19th century, and paprikash was a familiar dish in many communities. It was familiar enough, for example, to earn top billing in this notice from the September 13, 1922 edition of the Spencer (Iowa) Reporter:


Friday evening, September 15th, beginning at five o’clock, the Women’s Mission Circle of the Baptist church will serve a “League of Rations” supper in the dining rooms of the Baptist church, with the following menu:

Paprikash Chirka
Getquestchte Kartocel
Borsch and Yabrk
Seker Ketsei

Price 25 cents.

Not exactly an easy-to-decode menu, but I’ll take a crack at it:

  • Chicken paprikash
  • I’m guessing “kartocel” is meant to be what’s more typically transliterated as “kartoška,” a Russian term for potato; if so, I have no idea what “getquestchte” is. My best guess would be croquettes?
  • Buhkty (Czech sweet poppy seed rolls)
  • Borscht (Ukranian, but popular throughout Eastern Eruope) and yabrak (Turkish stuffed grape leaves in tomato broth)
  • Tomatoes (Mexican, but probably here because they were leftover from making the yabrak)
  • Apfelmus (German applesauce with lemon and cinnamon)
  • I’m guessing this is intended to be seker kamisi (Turkish), or sugar cane, which could mean crushed sugar cane juice, a traditional beverage?

Do you get the joke, by the way? “League of Rations?” Three days after the dinner was held, Hungary formally joined the League of Nations. I’m sure that was in the works for some time and not a direct reaction to the hospitality of the Baptist ladies of Spencer, Iowa, but I’m sure that, if the ambassador happened to notice the dinner, he would have approved.

We looked a little bit at the process for goulash in the post for fantastic beef goulash from Martinez, California.

From the box of F.J. from Sun City, Arizona. Some cards suggest a family history in Missouri and Kansas.

Beef Paprikash

1/4 cup oil
1-1/2 lbs. ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 can mushroom soup
1/2 pint sour cream
grated cheese
1 pkg. noodles

Saute green pepper and onion in oil. Add meat and cook until meat loses its redness. Add rest of ingredients except the last three and simmer over low heat until well done.

Remove from fire; add sour cream. Pour meat mixture into baking dish and top with cooked, drained noodles and the grated cheese. Put in a slow oven to heat through and melt cheese.

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