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Feast of All Saints, a Hallowe’en history lesson…and goulash

Yes, I understand I may be turning off a few people by naming this post with a Catholic feast day. I apologize if I offend anyone. But this is who I am. (Don’t worry. No proselytizing here)

I like the Holy Feast days. I’ve always been fascinated by the pomp and circumstance of the Catholic church. Then I was lucky enough to join. I’ve found that feast days are pretty much an excuse to let loose. Now, there are some solemn ones, but most are a cause to celebrate the life of some saint or another. Have you ever read about some of them? Wow! Some of them led some crazy lives before the whole saint thing. Crooks, devil-worshippers…you name it.And the way some of them died? Would make a great slasher flick. But this day is actually about all saints (little “s”), meaning all those in Heaven. The Saints (big “S”) get the rest of the year.

Merry Hallowe'en!

Here’s a fun fact: it’s no coincidence that All Saint’s Day follows Hallowe’en. It’s actually thought that a Celtic autumn festival (Samhain) and All Saints influenced Hallowe’en. There are aspects from both that found their way into early Hallowe’en celebrations. Begging, jack o’ lanterns and masks are some examples. As you might guess, I like obscure history. If you get bored, check this out sometime:

My calaveras.

Ok, enough of that. Hopefully some of you have stayed long enough to get past that. So, what did I do on this Feast of All Saints? I cleaned and made goulash. Exciting, right? Well, I’ve worked the last 7 days so I’ve had no time to cook or clean (as evident by the amount of sandwiches I’ve eaten this week). Last week, I found a single, lonely beef shank in my grocery for $2. Eh, why not. I’ve never used a shank, but I was willing to give it a try. Soup, stew…I could find something. I browsed the web for a bit and just kept going back to goulash recipes. I haven’t had it in so long. And it just seemed right for this chilly day. I could put it on and leave it for a few hours while I cleaned and attended Mass. And I’d have food for te next few days! It’s back to work for me tomorrow (yes, only one day off).

Anyhoo, this is the recipe I ended up using, as I had all the ingredients. I figured Wolfgang, being Austrian, could probably make a good goulash. I mean, Austria is thisclose to Hungary.

Wolfgang’s Beef Goulash

Goulash & macaroni

Recipe courtesy Wolfgang Puck, 2001

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds, toasted and ground
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon spicy paprika
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh marjoram leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef shank, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Mmm spices


In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil and saute the onions and sugar until caramelized. Add the garlic and caraway seed. Cook for 1 minute. Add the sweet and sharp paprika, marjoram, thyme, and bay leaf. Saute another minute, until fragrant. Add the tomato paste. Deglaze with the vinegar and the stock and add the pieces of beef shank, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until very tender, about 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

The finished product

A couple notes: I didn’t bother cutting up my shank. I just put it in whole. I did take it out at the end and shred it while I put in a handful of macaroni to cook. When the macaroni was al dente, I put back the beef. Also, I  stirred in a good dollop of Greek yogurt instead of sour cream.



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