serves: 6-10 servings
Paprika is found nowhere in Italian cuisine except in the cooking of Trieste and surroundings. Though the years of domination by the Austro-Hungarian monarchs were resented by the Italian-speaking Triestines, their descendants have not given up the city's traditional adaptations of Hungarian dishes like this goulasch. Serve Middle European style with potatoes (boiled or mashed); Italian-style with polenta or fettuccine; or steamed rice.
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large onions, cpeeled and ut in thick wedges
2½ pounds boneless beef chuck or round, trimmed and cut in 1 1/2-inch chunks
2 teaspoons kosher salt, or coarse sea salt, or to taste
2 teaspoons paprika, sweet or hot to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 cups cold water
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons tomato paste
Pour the olive oil into the saucepan, set over medium-low heat, and drop in the onion wedges. Toss to coat in oil, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook gently for 3 or 4 minutes, until sizzling and softening.
Spread the onions out on the pan bottom and drop the beef cubes on top of the wedges, filling the pan in one layer. Sprinkle another 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, all the paprika and oregano over the meat, and drop in the rosemary. Without stirring or turning the meat pieces, cover the pan tightly. Heat the meat-with the seasonings on top and the onions below-so its starts to release its juices and stew. Check once or twice to see that the pan liquid is bubbling and that the onions are melting (not burning) but don't stir.
After half an hour or so, set the cover ajar a couple of inches and adjust the heat to keep the juices bubbling and slowly reducing. As they thicken, stir up the onions so they don't burn and tumble the meat in the pan.
Continue cooking, partially covered, for another half hour or so. When the juices are concentrated and thick in the pan bottom, prepare the goulash sauce: Pour 3 cups of cold water in the small pan and whisk in the flour. Set over low heat and continue whisking until the flour is dispersed with no lumps, then whisk in the tomato paste. Heat gradually, whisking often, until the tomato-flour water just comes to a bubbling boil. Pour it into the big saucepan and stir well, turning the meat chunks over-they should be nearly covered in sauce-and blending in the thick pan.
Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer, put on the cover, slightly ajar, and cook 45 minutes to an hour, until the meat is quite tender and the sauce somewhat reduced. Season with more salt to taste. Turn off the heat and let the goulash cool in the pan for several hours before serving, or refrigerate overnight.
Reheat slowly, stirring now and then, until the meat is thoroughly heated; thin the sauce with water if it has thickened too much. Serve hot.