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1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups finely diced onion
1 green bell pepper, ribs removed, sliced into thin strips
4 garlic cloves, finely minced
2 pounds beef stew
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
2 bay leaves
1 (28 ounce) can tomatoes, crushed by hand
Lemon zest from two lemons
1 (16 oz) loaf unsliced soft white bread
3 slices bacon
3/4 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt, freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives
1. Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan. Sauté the onions and bell pepper in the oil until translucent but not browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic.
2. Stir in the beef and season with salt and pepper. As beef cooks, add the paprika, cayenne pepper, caraway seeds, and bay leaves. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes and return to a simmer; cook, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender, about 1 hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
4. Remove the bay leaves; stir in lemon zest just before serving.
For Bacon Dumplings:
1. Slice bread into 12 slices, then trim crust and dice slices into 1 inch cubes. Set aside.
2. Fry bacon until crisp in a skillet over medium heat. Remove from the skillet and sauté celery and onions in the rendered bacon fat. Crumble bacon strips and set aside.
3. Add heavy cream to the skillet, stirring to loosen any browned bits on the bottom. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in crumble bacon and remove from heat.
4. Whisk eggs in a bowl large enough to hold the bread cubes. Stir in the warm cream, then fold in bread cubes and chives.
5. With your hands, form an oblong roll that will fit in a pan. Wrap in plastic wrap, then seal in aluminum foil. Poach, covered, in simmering water for 45 minutes.
6. Remove from water, unwrap and cool. To serve, slice and sauté in butter. Top with goulash.
Note: look for paprika specifically labeled “Hungarian, ” as it delivers vibrant color and rich flavors to this dish.