January 1.— Austrian Goulasch.

The Austrian Goulasch recipe was one of the reasons I chose 365 Foreign Dishes as the book for this project. It had everything I had hoped for, including ingredients that are no longer easy to source unless I want to get strange looks as I approach local farmers asking for their discarded calves’ heads.

It also served as an immediate reminder that it wasn’t all that long ago that the entire animal was used in North American cookery. In 1908, when this book was first published, one could easily walk into any butcher and pick up calves’ heads, hooves, and more. Organ meats were also a very common part of North American diets. It is amazing to me how diets were relatively unchanged for hundreds of years. Then supermarkets became increasingly common in the 1950s, along with processed foods, and our diets experienced a rapid shift.

1.—Austrian Goulasch.Boil 2 calves' heads in salted water until tender; then cut the meat from the bone. Fry 1 dozen small peeled onions and 3 potatoes, cut into dice pieces; stir in 1 tablespoonful of flour and the sauce in which the meat was cooked. Let boil up, add the sliced meat, 1 teaspoonful of paprica and salt to taste; let all cook together fifteen minutes then serve very hot.
Austrian Goulasch recipe as seen in 365 FOREIGN DISHES.

Austrian Goulasch Challenges

The first challenge is obvious. What was I going to use as the cut of beef in the Austrian Goulasch in lieu of calves’ heads? I went on the assumption that the heads would be boiled for a very long time because the primary meat would be cheek and tongue, both of which are extremely tough cuts of meat.

Then I had to figure out how much meat would come from two calves’ heads. I decided that one kilogram of bone-in meat would do the job. I also knew that it needed to be fatty and sinewy.

Beef shank it was. That was, until I went shopping. Store after store did not have beef shank. I spoke with the in-store butcher and they told me that they’ve all but stopped cutting shank since people rarely buy it anymore. The butcher had just cut some short ribs, which was the only tough cut of meat they continue to regularly stock. So, short ribs it was.

The next thing I had to do was source some hot paprika. Somewhere in history, “paprika” stopped meaning hot paprika, and became synonymous with sweet paprika which adds nothing to a dish yet is what is found in stores and is what people commonly use. There are no specialty stores where I live and the international food aisles have very slim pickings. Off to Amazon to order Szeged Hot Hungarian-style paprika.

Austrian Goulasch Recipe Changes and Decisions

The first decision I had to make was, how long to slow-cook the short ribs. Short ribs need to be cooked long and slow. I wanted them to melt off the bone. I decided to try six hours, check them, then add time if needed. Six hours was perfect.

Next, I had to decide how much salt and water to add. I didn’t want to add salt a second time because if you perfectly salt the water when slow-cooking, there is no need to season it later. I decided on one tablespoon of Kosher salt. Again, that was the perfect amount. As for the water, I needed an amount that would not only submerge the ribs, it also needed to make the perfect amount of gravy. One litre was the decision. Perfect.

Next, I had to decide on the size of potatoes. I was waffling between extra large russet potatoes and large. I decided to go with large because it made sense in terms of portion sizes. Half a large potato is the equivalent of a typical portion size. And I figured the ribs would produce about 500 grams cooked beef, which is also six portions.

Finally, I knew that one tablespoon of flour would not be enough to make a gravy. The recipe doesn’t say anything about thickening or making a gravy. But, I know goulasch is a gravy stew. And I know flour, fat, and liquid equals gravy. I also knew the potato starch would help a little in the thickening process, but not enough to make it the right consistency. I decided on three tablespoons with the idea that I would add more mixed with warm water if needed. There was no need.

The Result

The results were amazing. I was worried that one teaspoon of hot paprika wouldn’t be enough heat. But it did give that good little bit of required heat, so that was nice.

I decided to look at modern recipes that swear they are the authentic traditional thing. Some claiming to have been created in consulatation with their Austrian friends whose families have been using the recipe for hudnreds of years. All of them had the addition of spices such as caraway and marjoram. There is a chance that in the last 100 years, these spices have become “traditional” but I question the claims of recipe that has been in families for generations. A number of them called forthe specific use sweet paprika instead of hot, which I also knew was incorrect. There were also additions of things like tomato paste, which is Hungarian and not Austrian.

Don’t add these things. There are completely unnecessary. The fat plus salt plus acid from the onions makes it perfect as-is. And be sure to get tough cuts of beef with lots of fat, instead of nicer cuts and adding fat.

This recipe does require a fair bit of energy to make while frying everything, but it worth it. This recipe will be added in regular rotation when my “spoons” allow.

Serve with rice or potato dumplings.

Austrian Goulasch flatlay image. The goulasch is in a brown bowl that is on top of a dark brown wooden surface.

Austrian Goulasch

Jules Sherred
A flavourful goulasch that is slow-cooked to perfection.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 6 hours 50 minutes
Total Time 7 hours 20 minutes
Cuisine Austrian
Servings 6 people
Calories 514 kcal



  • In a 3-quart (or larger) Instant Pot, place the ribs, water and salt. Place the lid and DO NOT SEAL. Set to Slow Cook for 6 hours.
  • When there is about 30 minutes left in the slow cook, prepare and mise en place the ingredients.
  • Heat the skillet and then add the oil.
  • When the oil is shimmering, add the onions and potoates. Fry until the onions begin to caramlize, about 25-30 minutes. If the potatoes begin to stick to the skillet, add some fat from the ribs.
  • While the onions and potatoes are frying, remove the ribs from the Instant Pot. Reserve the liquid. Remove the meat from the bones. Shred the meat by pulling it with two forks.
  • When the onions smell sweet-ish, mix in the flour to the onion and potato mixture to create a slight roux.
  • Add the reserved liquid and bring to a boil. A gravy will begin to form.
  • Add the meat and paprika. Boil for an additional 15 minutes.
  • Serve while hot.


Serve with white rice or dumplings.


Nutrition Facts
Austrian Goulasch
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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