GOULASH

This one-pot meal is easy for a busy weeknight meal.

TheKitchn.com

Did you love Hamburger Helper as a kid? This one-pot dinner is basically a homemade version that checks all the comfort-food boxes: saucy macaroni, crumbles of ground beef and generous pockets of creamy, melted cheddar.

The difference between American and Hungarian goulash

When you hear the word "goulash," there's a chance you envision something a little different than a pot loaded with ground beef and macaroni. That's because there are two distinctly different styles of goulash: classic American goulash and Hungarian goulash.

American beef goulash is what you see here: a one-pot meal made with ground beef, pasta, tomato sauce and cheese. Hungarian goulash, on the other hand, is more of a stew, prepared with cubes of beef (often chuck roast) and vegetables swimming in a paprika-kissed tomato broth.

3 tips for making the best beef goulash

1. Swap the water for broth. While some one-pot pastas call for water, this version swaps in broth to bring even more flavor to the table. Beef or chicken broth both work well here; use whichever one you have handy.

2. Don't forget to stir. After adding the macaroni to the pot, don't forget to give it a good stir every once in a while, and scrape the bottom and corners of the pot. This will guarantee that the pasta doesn't stick or clump together.

3. Grate the cheese yourself. It can be tempting to grab a bag of cheddar to minimize prep, but the pre-shredded stuff containers stabilizers, which means it doesn't melt nearly as well. You'll have much better results if you start with a block of cheese and grate it yourself.

Beef Goulash

Serves 4

1 medium yellow onion

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound lean ground beef

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

2 bay leaves

1 cup dried elbow macaroni (about 4 ounces)

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (about 1 cup), plus more for serving

1. Dice 1 medium yellow onion and mince 2 garlic cloves.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 6-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more.

3. Add 1 pound lean ground beef and season with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Cook, breaking up the meat into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until browned, beginning to crisp, and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and cook, stirring, until well-incorporated and darkened slightly in color, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in 1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes and their juices, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 1/2 cups beef or chicken broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil.

5. Stir in 1 cup elbow macaroni. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is just tender, 15 to 18 minutes. Meanwhile, shred 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, plus more for serving if desired.

6. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the cheese until well-incorporated. Top with more grated cheese for serving, if desired.

Recipe notes: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.

(Kelli Foster is associate food editor for TheKitchn.com, a nationally known blog for people who love food and home cooking. Submit any comments or questions to editorial@thekitchn.com.)

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