"Oh I would never dream of assuming I know all Hogwarts' secrets, Igor," said Dumbledore amicably. "Only this morning, for instance, I took a wrong turning on the way to the bathroom and found myself in a beautifully proportioned room I have never seen before, containing a really magnificent collection of chamber pots. When I went back to investigate more closely, I discovered that the room had vanished. But I must keep an eye out for it. Possibly it is only accessible at five-thirty in the morning. Or it may only appear at the quarter moon -- or when the seeker has an exceptionally full bladder." Harry snorted into his plate of goulash. Percy frowned, but Harry could have sworn Dumbledore had given him a very small wink."
Yule Ball Beef Goulash
In Harry's fourth year, the Tri-Wizard Tournament is held at Hogwarts castle. As part of the tournament festivities, a Yule Ball is held on Christmas day where Harry enjoys goulash while he overhears Dumbledore telling a funny story about how he discovered the (as yet unnamed) Room of Requirement. My version of the Yule Ball Beef Goulash takes inspiration from traditional Scottish and Hungarian goulash, including rich chunks of beef chuck, potatoes, carrots, and red bell peppers cooked down into a sweet paprika-spiced stew. This hearty and delicious beef stew is perfect for a cold winter day or enjoyed during your own Yule celebrations.
There are many different variations of goulash in the world, but one can assume that the rich stew in the Harry Potter book likely leaned toward a Scottish, Hungarian, or even a Bulgarian preparation (as fellow Tri-Wizard champion Viktor Krum is from Bulgaria). Beef is extremely common in goulash recipes across the world, however, you'll also find recipes that feature pork, venison, and fish in various parts of Europe and the rest of the world. A stew base of tomato, red currant jelly, broth, and red wine spiced with paprika and herbs is also very common amongst goulash variations and features in this recipe.
Some goulash recipes include potatoes cooked into the stew, as this one does. Others are served over mashed potatoes or with a skirlie potato cake on top, and yet others do not include potatoes at all. The American version of goulash is generally considered more of a casserole than a stew; often including macaroni noodles instead of potatoes, along with ground beef and a heavy tomato base.
What's the best cut of beef to use?
The most important aspect of a flavorful Yule Ball Beef Goulash is choosing the right cut of meat. I suggest starting with a tough cut with lots of collagen-rich connective tissue such as beef chuck, which comes from the forequarter, including the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm. Beef chuck is an inexpensive cut that is tough, but super flavorful, and works exceptionally well in stews that cook slowly over a longer period of time to tenderize. If you can't find beef chuck, beef round (taken from the rear muscle) is also good, though it is leaner and less flavorful than chuck.
I can't find red currant jelly. What can I use instead?
Red currant jelly is a common component of both Scottish and Hungarian goulash and adds a bit of sweetness and tartness to round out the base of the stew. While red currant jelly is the most authentic option, I appreciate that it can be difficult to source in the US unless you plan to make it yourself. A good alternative if you are unable to source red currant jelly is an equal measure of canned cranberry sauce, which offers a similar sweet and tart flavor and smooth gelatinous texture.
What tools do I need to make this recipe?
- A large soup pot or dutch oven
- A large mixing bowl
- Cooking tongs
- A wooden spoon or spatula
- A cutting board
- A chef's knife
- A kitchen scale or measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
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A note for special diets
This Yule Ball Beef Goulash can be made friendly for gluten-free diets by swapping the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free 1:1 flour blend.
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My version of the Yule Ball Beef Goulash includes rich chunks of beef chuck, potatoes, carrots, and red bell peppers cooked down into a sweet paprika-spiced stew. This hearty and delicious beef stew is perfect for a cold winter day or enjoyed during your own Yule celebrations.
- 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (may sub for garlic-infused olive oil if omitting the garlic below)
- 2 lbs beef chuck stew meat
- 2-3 tablespoon all-purpose flour, for dredging (may sub for a gluten-free 1:1 flour blend, if needed)
- 2 ½ tsp Kosher salt, divided
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper, divided
- 1 large onion, diced (may sub for 100 g / 1 cup chopped green onion if intolerant)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (may omit in favor of garlic-infused olive oil noted above if intolerant)
- 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 193 g)
- 3 large celery stalks, chopped (about 175 g)
- 1 red bell pepper, diced (about 182 g)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 8 oz (1 cup) full-bodied dry red wine (Cabernet, Burgundy, Pinot Noir, or Merlot) (may sub for an equal measure of beef broth)
- 3 tbsp red currant jelly (may sub for an equal measure of canned cranberry sauce)
- 32 oz (4 cups) beef broth
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp Hungarian paprika
- 2 tsp dried thyme - OR - 2 tablespoon fresh thyme
- 2 tsp dried parsley - OR - 2 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 large Yukon Gold potatoes, diced (about 770 g)
- (optional) horseradish sour cream (3 parts sour cream + 1 part horseradish cream) and fresh parsley, to top
- In a large mixing bowl, season the beef with 1 teaspoon of the divided Kosher salt and ½ teaspoon of the divided cracked black pepper. Reserve to the side while you prep the vegetables, around 10 minutes or more is great.
- Once you're ready to cook the beef, pat down with a paper towel to remove excess moisture, then dredge in flour.
- In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Sear the meat in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan to it browns properly. You'll want to brown each side for 3-5 minutes (depending on size) before flipping. The meat will brown better undisturbed so don't be tempted to flip early. As the meat browns, reserve each batch to the side.
- Lower the heat slightly to just above medium and add the onion and garlic, if using. Allow to cook until onions are translucent. If omitting garlic or utilizing green onions instead of traditional move on to the next step.
- Add the carrots, celery and bell pepper and sautee for 3-4 minutes. You just want them to get a bit of direct heat, but they don't need to be soft.
- Add the tomato paste and cook until it begins to darken, then add the wine (or equal measure of broth) to deglaze, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to reduce by about half, then add the red currant jelly, stirring until melted and emulsified.
- Add the beef back to the pot, then add the beef broth, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Stir to combine.
- Allow the stew to come to a boil then reduce heat to simmer, add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper, and cover. Allow to simmer for 75-minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure that the stew does not begin to boil.
- After 75-minutes, add the potatoes and allow to simmer uncovered for the final 15-minutes. If additional liquid is needed, it can be added at this point. Beef broth or water are both good options, if needed.
- Once the potatoes are tender, remove bay leaves, taste for salt and adjust if needed. Serve warm with optional horseradish sour cream and fresh parsley, if desired.
Nutritional information on Whip & Wander is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. We cannot guarantee the accuracy of the nutritional information given for any recipe on this site.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 643
- Sugar: 12 g
- Sodium: 727 mg
- Fat: 33 g
- Saturated Fat: 11 g
- Carbohydrates: 26 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Protein: 32 g
- Cholesterol: 133 mg
Keywords: Yule Ball, Beef Goulash