Hungarian Goulash

1/4 cup oil
10 ounces finely cut onions
1/2 bell pepper, deseeded & crushed
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1 pound stew beef
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika (don’t use Spanish)
1/4 teaspoons black pepper
1/4 teaspoons crushed Italian pepper or cayenne
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes, crushed by hand
2 bay leaves
salt to taste
grating of lemon rind to taste for a finishing touch

Egg noodles, buttered and seasoned with a touch of nutmeg, for serving

Heat the oil in a heavy bottom saucepan or casserole. Add the onions and the bell pepper, cover and sweat onions until translucent, stirring occasionally, but do not brown. Add the garlic and saute until it imparts its aroma.

Add the meat, stir together and season with salt. Cover and let sweat gently for several minutes. When meat takes on a cooked appearance, add paprika, caraway seeds, the pepper and the bay leaves, stir all together, cover and let cook on a low fire for 10 to 15 minutes until meat has picked up the flavor of the seasonings.

Add the tomatoes, stir and cover and return to a simmer. Adjust fire so the goulash simmers very gently and let cook, stirring occasionally until meat is tender. While the goulash is cooking, taste and adjust the seasoning if needed. Meat should be tender in about one hour.

When meat is tender, remove bay leaves and taste once more. Skim any grease that may have surfaced. Keep warm.

Serve Goulash on a bed of egg noodles, buttered and seasoned with a touch of nutmeg.