Day 29 Stewed Beef – Goulasch

Today’s recipe requires three hours of cooking so I’ve been waiting for a snowy weekend to make the Stewed Beef – Goulasch (p. 52) recipe in the 1906 Berlin Cook Book. It was submitted by Mrs. R. Wegener.

So who is Mrs. Wegener? Henriette Matilda Rehberger was born in 1873 in Toronto and in the 1901 census she lists her heritage as German. One source lists her parents as Adam Rehberger and Rosina Heatman. Matilda’s husband was Richard Wegener who emigrated from Hamburg Germany in 1893. The 1901 census lists him employed year round as an oil agent earning $850 a year. The couple and their two sons Arthur and Charles were Lutheran and listed German as their mother tongue. I can’t find them any where in the 1911 census despite trying a few variations in spelling.

I followed the directions, cutting and flouring some beef and then frying with some chopped onion. I added water and the salt, pepper, dry mustard and allspice. I had never considered adding allspice to a beef dish so I was curious about the end result. I covered the meat with water and let it simmer for 3 hours. It is important to check on the water level part way through. My beef was just starting to stick to the bottom of the pot after 2 hours so I added a little more water.

I’d always considered goulash a Hungarian stew with paprika as the main flavouring. Matilda’s goulasch is basically beef with some allspice.  Perhaps a modern cook should consider increasing the allspice and/or the mustard to provide more flavour to the beef because as written it is basically a bland beef stew. Early twentieth century Canadian recipes do tend be milder than we’re accustomed to today so this was probably a very satisfying meat component of a young family’s meal.  After my first taste, I added a little more allspice to my portion of beef and liked the combination. I know that meat production and processing has changed in the last 100 years so I wonder if the beef itself in 1906 would provide more flavour. Meat was sold with much more fat, and fat provides flavour. Today I used regular grocery store stewing beef so I should probably look for another source for meat when testing these recipes.

Cut 2 pounds of beefsteak in 1 inch cubes, roll in flour and fry brown on all sides, frying 2 onions with it, then add water to cover, salt and pepper, one teaspoon of dry mustard, 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice. Boil gently for three hours and thicken the gravy with flour.

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2 Responses to Day 29 Stewed Beef – Goulasch

  1. Helen says:

    If you made it in a crock pot and let it simmer all day it would be more tender. I find that is the best way to cook stewing beef. If you don’t want to cook it as long, I’d use a better cut of beef, like a sirloin steak cut up.

    • The crock pot is one of the many tools that I suspect women in 1906 would envy. The beef in this recipe ended up tender but without much flavour. The more I use this cook book, the more I realize that our modern taste is accustomed to a wider range of seasonings then were used at the turn of the 20th century.

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