When I prepare savory dishes, I almost never follow a recipe. I just sort of feel my way through the process, which is probably why I can rarely duplicate a dish. Goulash is the exception, I don't follow an exact recipe (I eyeball most of this), I've just made it so many times that I can tell when I've got it right.
1 large white onion, diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 pound ground beef or turkey
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
5 cups tomato juice
2 cups mini penne (any short cut of pasta will work & you can bump up the fiber by using a whole wheat pasta)
1(15)ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
Salt & pepper to taste
First things first, add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a large stock pot and put it over medium heat. Next, strap on your onion goggles and get to work on that bad boy. I go for a medium dice, but you really don't have to be too particular. If you're worried about raw onion flavor, don't be, these will cook long enough to mellow considerably. Add the diced onions to the pot, toss them in the oil and just let them work for few minutes. Once you get the onions going, add the ground meat of your choice, I went with ground turkey. You'll need a sturdy spatula or wooden spoon to break up the meat as it browns.
Once the situation in your pan looks like this, turn your attention to slicing the mushrooms and mincing the garlic. Yes, you can buy mushrooms pre-sliced at the grocery store, but I like to slice my own.
Please, please, please don't use canned!
I really like mushrooms, so I used an entire 8oz container, you can cut back if you're not as big of a fan.
Add the mushrooms, garlic and a shot of Worcestershire sauce to the pan. I find that when cooking with turkey, rather than beef, the Worcestershire really helps to make the dish taste richer and meatier. Don't forget salt & pepper, but remember that we're using Worcestershire too and be mindful of how salty that is.
I have a confession to make...I didn't mince my own garlic for this recipe. I was the recent recipient of a most amazing convenience product from the good people at Penzeys Spices. That product? Dried, minced garlic. I've always scoffed at (and refused to buy) things like this, I mean, how do you beat fresh garlic? But when I received it as a gift from my mom, I figured I may as well give it a try. And, well, it's changed my life. I still buy and use fresh garlic regularly, but on those days when I just don't feel like peeling and mincing it myself (I still don't have a garlic press, you know), this stuff is amazing!
Okay, back to business. We've got onions, meat, mushrooms, garlic and Worcestershire working in the pot. Once the meat is browned, we're ready to move on, but if you've used ground beef, you may want to pause here to skim off some of the fat. Next, add the garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning (just eyeball it) and the 5 cups of tomato juice. Bring it to a boil, because we're going to cook the pasta right in this pan! Add the pasta and cook according to the package directions (mine took 7 minutes).
The pasta will pick up so much flavor from the rest of the dish, but it will also absorb a considerable amount of the liquid in the pan. I combat that with the can of tomato sauce, I like my goulash to be a little thicker and find adding sauce gets me to just the right consistency. If you're going for a soupier consistency, use more tomato juice instead. Give it a taste, adjust your seasonings, and that's it, we're done!
At my house, we dish it up in bowls and serve it with a slice of peanut buttered bread on the side. After all, this is the Midwest and we take our carbs very seriously.