Goulash might not be the sexiest-sounding dish that dates back to medieval Hungary, but it sure hits the comfort spot, especially when featuring wild spring mushrooms.
“With the quarantine in full effect, I found myself able to get back into some solitary hobbies, my favorite being foraging,” says Chef Justin Congdon of pFriem Family Brewers. “This spring has been especially fantastic for wild edibles like morels, porcini, fiddlehead ferns, and some other more obscure favorites of mine.”
The chef — who runs the culinary show at the Hood River, Oregon, brewery acclaimed for its own beer-friendly edibles — says he’s been finding different uses for his fresh hoard of wild shroomers. His favorite has been a dish inspired by traditional goulash, cooking and pairing with pFriem’s pilsner.
“I used pilsner in this recipe because it is a fantastic cooking beer,” Congdon says. “Its crisp malt flavor can shine through in most preparations, it isn’t too hoppy — high hopped beers tend to have an increased perception of bitterness when cooked — and cans of pilsner are a staple beer anyone can get. For pairing, pilsner has a great, cleansing dryness to contrast the rich flavors that develop while making it.”
While he is back in the kitchen at the brewery as they are offering to-go food, Congdon says he’s done some self-actualization within the lockdown.
“I want to make food that makes me happy, that has always served me well,” he says. “If it makes me deep down happy, other people usually love it too. When you are designing menu after menu, dish after dish, things like food cost and trying to please every demographic start to get in the way. It is easy for a chef to start to get a little off track. I’m just glad to be cooking again, and I plan to keep true to myself.”
Wild Spring Mushroom Goulash
1 pound wild mushrooms*, cut into ½-inch chunks
1 medium gold potato, diced into ½-inch chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
½ stick (2 ounces) unsalted butter
2 large sweet onions, sliced thin
1 large carrot, grated
2 celery ribs, grated
1½ tablespoon minced garlic
2½ tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1½ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup pFriem pilsner
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 loaf fresh crusty bread
Preheat your oven to 425° F. In a large mixing bowl, pour in the oil and add the mushrooms and diced potato, quickly tossing to evenly coat. Spread on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place a large pot over medium heat. Melt the butter in the pot and add the grated vegetables, garlic, spices and salt. Sweat the vegetables slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, allowing them to break down and get nice and sweet.
Once most of the moisture from the vegetables has evaporated, add the roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, beer and the last measure of salt.
Bring this back to a simmer and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors develop and the stew thickens a little.
Adjust salt to your taste. Enjoy in a big bowl with crusty bread and (too much) butter!
*Note: Never use wild mushrooms unless you’re an experienced forager or you’ve gotten them from an approved purveyor.