Kettle Goulash (Kotlíkový Guláš)

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There are many different recipes for making goulash. There are soups and stews, and some are simpler than others. In fact, one of the first recipes on this site was for a goulash soup. Here is a slight variation on that recipe, this is the classic kettle goulash (kotlíkový guláš) that is popular at Slovak picnics. In fact, I prepared it for a Slovak picnic (and hike) organized here in the D.C. area through our Slovak Meetup group. In making this recipe, I followed video recipe from

Ingredients for 40 servings: 1.5 cups oil, 3.3 lbs onions (about 8 large ones), 7lb cubed beef, water, 4 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp Cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 tbsp salt, 4.5 lbs potatoes (15 small ones), 3 tbsp marjoram, 8 cloves garlic, beer (optional)
Prep Time: 30 minutes of prep time, 2 hours for cooking

goulash ingredients
Here is what you will need for this version of goulash: beef, potatoes, onions, and various spices.

chopped onions browning meath
Chop the onions (cibule). The pieces don’t have to be too small since the onions will dissolve during cooking. Pour the oil (olej) into your kettle and wait for it to get hot. Then add the onions. Fry them until they get golden and glass-like translucent. Add the meat (mäso) and brown it from all sides. You can brown all the meat in the kettle but I figured it will be faster if I do one half (one 3lb packet) separately in a frying pan. If you fry your meat separately like this, make sure to pour in all the juices into the kettle. Add water. I didn’t measure how much I added in, but it was enough to get this 16L stock pot 2/3 full. Roughly speaking, you want half the soup be water and the other half meat. When adding water, it’s better to add in several small batches and wait for the water to come to boil in between each addition. This way the meat will continue to cook.

tablespoon red pepper tablespoon black pepper
Add the spices: paprika (sladká červená paprika), Cayenne pepper (štiplavá červená paprika), ground black pepper (mleté čierne korenie), and salt (soľ). Cover and let simmer on low heat for about an hour. In the meantime, peel and cube all but two potatoes and get minced garlic ready to go.

About an hour later

cubed potatoes fresh and dried marjoram
Add the cubed potatoes into the goulash once the meat is almost ready. Also add the marjoram, I used both fresh and dried. When substituting fresh herbs for dried ones, use one tablespoon of fresh herbs for each one teaspoon of dried herbs.

minced garlic shredded potatoes
Mince the garlic cloves and add these into the pot. Also grate the remaining two peeled potatoes using a grater. Add these in as well, these potatoes will help thicken the stew.

beer used in cooking goulash in a pot
Finally, if the goulash tastes too thick, you can thin it by adding some dark beer. Or just add the beer regardless. I used about 1/3 bottle of “dark amber” brew. And that’s it, look at all that delicious oil floating on top!

Slovak Picnic in Turkey Run, VA

goulash slovak picnic in virginia
And just few photos from the picnic. I ended up reheating the goulash using this portable gas stove. This was my first time using it and it’s a really handy thing! The only issue is that the flame is really hot. It didn’t even occur to me to keep stirring the goulash while heating it up, and some potatoes on the bottom burned. So unfortunately the goulash had bit of a burned taste. But nobody really complained, I guess that’s part of the charm of eating in the outdoors…

We also had hot dogs (párky). The Giant grocery chain sells “New York deli-style” hot dogs that look and taste very much like Slovak hot dogs. By the way, hot dogs are served differently in Slovakia than here in the US. One way is to serve them in a hollowed out bread roll. These are hollowed out by a heated spike that toasts the roll from the inside. You then squirt mustard into the slot and then put in the párok. This kind of hot dog is called, quite appropriately, párok v rožku (hot dog in a bread roll). The other way of serving hot dogs is by simply placing two cooked pieces on a paper plate with mustard and few slices of rye or whole wheat bread. This way is popular at festivals where vendors may not have that fancy bread roll toasting spike.