Hungarian goulash can have a souplike consistency, or it can be reduced until it turns syrupy.


If meat's what's for dinner, then Bruce Aidells' cookbook is what you want on the bookshelf.

The author and founder of Aidells Sausage Co., who's also a regular food-magazine contributor, breaks it all down in "The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today's Meat" with Anne-Marie Ramo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40).

Aidells will be a featured presenter Saturday on the Culinary Stage during the Tucson Festival of Books, which runs Saturday and Sunday.

The wide world of meat, as Aidells explains, has changed dramatically since he wrote "The Complete Meat Cookbook" more than 10 years ago. Terms such as "natural," "naturally raised" and "grass-fed" slapped onto labels can be confusing. Aidells explains what they mean and lays out different cooking methods and helpful tips. You know how recipes always tell you to let meat rest after it's cooked? Well, each recipe tells you exactly how many minutes it should rest.

Beef, pork, lamb and even more exotic meat like bison and goat are featured in straightforward recipes such as roast bison sirloin and the more unusual tongue mousse, along with stuff you'd never even think of making at home, like lard.

The book is user-friendly, with notes at the top of each recipe that indicate whether something is inexpensive, great as leftovers, freezes well or works for a crowd. The index also categorizes recipes the same way, so you can find what you need fast.

Hungarian Goulash

Serves: 6

• 2 tablespoons bacon fat, lard or olive oil

• 3 cups chopped onions

• 2 garlic gloves, minced

• 3 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika

• 2 teaspoons hot Hungarian paprika (optional)

• 3 pounds boneless chuck roast (any cut), cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper

• 4 cups homemade beef stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth

• 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, ground

• 2 cups 1/2-inch-diced peeled Yukon Gold, red or white boiling potatoes

• 2 cups 1/2-inch-diced peeled carrots

• 1 large red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced

• 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, or 2/3 cup drained, chopped canned tomatoes

• Sour cream (optional)

• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram

Heat the fat in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden brown, about 20 minutes.

Add the sweet paprika and hot paprika (if using) and stir until the onions are well-coated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the meat, a little salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, increase the heat to medium-high, and cook until the liquid is almost evaporated.

Add the remaining 3 1/2 cups stock and the caraway seeds and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook, covered, for 1 hour, or until the meat is almost tender. Skim the liquid and discard the fat.

Add the potatoes, carrots, bell pepper and tomatoes. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. Degrease the surface.

You can serve the goulash as is, with a souplike consistency, or reduce it until it just turns syrupy. To do so, strain all the solids from the soup and set aside. Bring to a boil and reduce the liquid, then add back the solids. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve with sour cream, if desired, and a sprinkling of marjoram.

Egg Dumplings

Serves: 6

• 1 large egg, lightly beaten

• 1 tablespoon melted lard, bacon fat or butter

• 1/3 cup water

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

Mix together the egg, lard, water and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour just until a soft dough forms, being careful not to overmix.

Drop tablespoons of dough (it's okay if they're a little uneven and rustically misshapen) into a large pot of boiling salted water. The dumplings are done when they rise to the surface, about 10 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain. If you make these ahead, add them to the goulash and reheat right before serving.

From "The Great Meat Cookbook: Everything You Need to Know to Buy and Cook Today's Meat" by Bruce Aidells.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194.