Like many of you, I always crave beef stew this time of year. And then I inevitably remember that I don't actually like beef stew. I like the idea of beef stew...a hot, steaming, one-pot meal that you can eat with a giant goblet of red wine or a stout. But in reality, beef stew tends to bore me with its salty cubes of meet, overcooked carrots and celery and bland, brown sauce.
Last weekend I went searching for an alternative. By searching, I mean I curled up on my couch with a cookbook after a freezing sledding adventure. Nigel Slate's Tender is my reliable source for comfort recipes on dreary days so I looked up "stew" in the index and discovered his recipe for Hungarian Goulash.
It's a very simple stew, but the paprika, dried mushrooms and red peppers gave it more 'oomph' then the average stew. I used cumin seeds instead of caraway seeds, and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. My kids even ate some, even if their bites were 3 parts butter noodles to one part stew.