elbow macaroni goulash in pot

Speaking of switching things up, McGlinn notes that one of the great things about this goulash recipe is that it is easy to customize. As she suggests, "You can add bell peppers, spinach, or broccoli, or switch up the pasta to be grain free." In fact, she even notes that the ground beef and macaroni provide great camouflage, making the dish "easy to sneak vegetables into." Stealth veggies, after all, aren’t just for kids — many adults aren’t big fans of eating the (non-Skittles) rainbow, either, but vegetables diced really fine and stirred into a meaty, creamy, tomato-based sauce aren’t so painful to eat and might even be enjoyable.

Assemble the ingredients for this American-style goulash

ingredients for american goluash

This all-American goulash starts with ground beef and elbow macaroni, while the sauce is built on tomato paste, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes. Additional ingredients include an onion, garlic, beef broth (water can be used in its place), salt, pepper, and paprika.

While McGlinn uses Hungarian paprika, she says, "Smoked paprika can definitely be used … it does add a nice smokey-spicy flavor to things that aren’t wholly hot." She also uses caraway seeds but says these are optional. Caraway, she explains, "tastes a lot like fennel, or like a floral licorice … very strong and sharp." For this reason, she suggests skipping it if you’re not a fan of fennel, anise, or other licorice-type flavors.

Brown the ground beef, onions, and garlic

ground beef and onions

The first step in making this goulash is to brown the ground beef. Add it to a large frying pan or heavy pot, and begin cooking it over medium heat. Break it up and stir it around as it cooks in order to crumble it into loose bits. After about 5 minutes, the beef should be brown throughout, with no more pink in the middle. At this point, stir in the onions and garlic and cook them for about 3 minutes.

Add everything but the sour cream to the pot

tomato sauce in pan

Once the onions have softened up a bit and are starting to smell onion-y, and the garlic smells garlicky, stir in the tomato paste. Follow this up with the two other types of canned tomatoes along with the beef broth and the elbow macaroni. Heat the goulash to a simmer, then season it with the salt, pepper, and paprika. If you’re using the caraway seeds, add those in, as well.

Finish the goulash off with the final ingredient

american goulash with sour cream

Let the goulash cook for about 10 minutes, stirring it every once in a while. When the pasta is soft (or al dente), the dish is done … well, almost. Turn off the heat, then stir in the sour cream. Now it’s ready to eat.

Can’t polish off all the goulash in one sitting? No need to worry, as McGlinn assures us that leftovers save well. She says they can be kept in the fridge for up to a week and can also be frozen in an airtight container without it affecting the sour cream.