I hardly ever order Czech classics like guláš or svíčková in Praha restaurants because, honestly, they’re never half as good as the real (homemade) thing. However, should you ever really crave a proper guláš while you’re out and about in the mean streets of Žižkov, let me recommend the one at Restaurant Olše on Olšanské Náměstí. Flanked by socialist relics such as the Hotel Olšanka, some crumbling paneláks (housing estates), a boxing club and a very grim butcher’s; the surroundings may not be the cheeriest. But there is a certain, indistinguishable atmosphere. And with the TV Tower kindly looking down upon you and with some very good watering holes (like Hapu, U Sadu, and the TV Tower itself) just around the corner, the location is actually really quite great. And the guláš? I really, really hate to admit this: it’s great. Fantastic even. Sure it’s about 5 sizes too big- accompanied by 5 or 6 (!) snowy dumplings- and containing unheard of things like tomato (paste?) but yes, it’s really good. Oh and they have tank Pilsner on tap. Need I say more?
But, if you have the time, ingredients, and willing to make it at home, this is how you my mum makes a proper guláš.
Hovězí Guláš – Beef Gulash
You will need:
5-6 larger onions (yellow)
about 1.8 kg beef shank and some marrow bones (without the marrow)
3-4 tbsp sweet hungarian paprika
1-2 tbsp hot hungarian paprika
chilli flakes/dried chilli if you have it, about 1 tsp
1/2 (ish) cup of water
oil or lard for the pan
salt and pepper
Serves 4 easily
- Heat a good amount of oil or lard in a large, heavy bottomed pan
- Add chopped onions and sautee until glassy and golden- you may throw in the bones at this point as well
- Toss in the beef shank- cut into roughly 4×4 cm chunks (it helps if you just cut along the connective tissue) keep in mind that the meat will shrink a lot and release all of the collagen that will thicken the sauce. This is why we use cheaper, tougher cuts of meat.
- Cook at a medium heat until the meat is seared on the outside
- Cover the pot/pan with a lid and cook for about ten minutes/ until juices are released
- Preheat your oven to 320 F or 160 C
- Once the juices have been released, add salt and pepper to taste, paprika, some water, put it in the oven, and LEAVE IT ALONE for at lease 1.5 hours- of course check on it occasionally to make sure it hasn’t dried out and add water if necessary. You can eventually turn the oven off, and leave the pot of guláš inside (even overnight).
- Serve with fresh rye bread or dumplings and some fresh raw onions