Venison Goulash With Herb Dumplings

Image of a bag of Hungarian paprikaI can’t answer for the authenticity of this goulash* but I can say, hand on my not-remotely-Hungarian heart, it’s extremely tasty and the perfect winter comfort food.

Traditionally goulash tends to be served with ribbon noodles but as dumplings and noodles may seem like too much of a good thing, you could try it instead with steamed white cabbage tossed with caraway seeds and a scrap of butter and if you still want to go for carbohydrate overload, boiled potatoes.

If you prefer, you can use rose veal or lean beef in place of the venison, in which case you can leave out the bacon. Most importantly, the paprika should be bright red and smell fresh. If it is at all brown and dusty, it’s best to bin it and cook something else.

Venison Goulash with Herb Dumplings

Image of venison goulash with noodles

Ingredients for the dumplings:

100 g plain flour

2 level tspn baking powder

28 g butter

1/2 tspn salt

1 egg

A handful of finely chopped parsley

Ingredients for the goulash:

700g of casserole venison (you can increase this to 1 kilo without affecting the quantities of the remaining ingredients)

An equal weight of onions, peeled and finely sliced

140g streaky bacon, cut into lardons

2 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped

2 bay leaves

3-4 juniper berries

5-6 peppercorns

1 tspn caraway seeds

1 level tbsp sweet paprika

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper



125 ml sour cream (or double cream and a tablespoon of vinegar – don’t be surprised when it thickens instantly, it’s fine)


Image of dumpling dough

First make the dumplings. Mix the flour, salt and baking powder. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub it into the flour, then mix in the egg and parsley to make a stiff dough. Knead briefly to amalgamate, form into a ball, wrap in cling film and set aside in the fridge.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a deep frying pan or casserole. Fry the bacon until transparent, remove with a slotted spoon then add the venison and brown it in batches. Remove and set aside with the bacon.

Image of onions frying

Add a little more oil to the casserole dish if necessary and cook the onions until golden and wilted. Drop in the garlic and cook for a minute.

Put the meat back in the pan. Stir in the paprika and salt and cook for one minute. Add a splash of water if necessary as paprika burns easily.

Image of paprika added to goulash

Add the herbs and seasonings (except the parsley) and a wine glass of water and clamp on a tight-fitting lid. Simmer on top of the stove until the meat is tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Just before you want to eat, check the seasoning, adjust as required then stir in the sour cream and chopped parsley.

Pinch off pea-sized pieces of the dumpling dough, roll them into spheres and drop them into the simmering goulash. Put the lid back on. The dumplings will be done in six to eight minutes by which time they should be light and fluffy.

Image of dumplings in goulash

* The nerdy bit: As I understand it a proper Hungarian gulyas can be either a soup or a stew and does not contain cream. This dish is closer to a paprikas or porkolt but as most people will be familiar with the ingredients as a goulash, that’s the name I’ve gone with.

Check out other paprika recipes at the Spice Trail January challenge.

I’m also entering this in January’s Cooking With Herbs Challenge hosted by Karen Burns-Booth at Lavender and Lovage.

Cooking with Herbs

17 thoughts on “Venison Goulash With Herb Dumplings

  1. Ah, interesting! I have some venison earmarked for the weekend, to be casseroled with various things including juniper berries and pears, which the recipe assures me go with venison. I’ve eaten it before but a long time ago so will be interesting to see how it turns out. I do love a goulash – I think it’s the caraway seeds and paprika that makes it. Yum.

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  3. Authentic or not, this looks absolutely delicious. I wish I didn’t look at this post as I wait for my own supper to cook – my stomach is now growling insanely! Thank you so much for sharing in this month’s Spice Trail challenge – a brilliant entry 🙂

  4. THANKS so much for entering this into Cooking with Herbs – what a comforting fish for winter, so filling with a spicy kick! I also love your step-by-step photos too, vert helpful and also very attractive! Karen

  5. I love this recipe. It contains all of my favourite things. I do have to admit I am a little dumplingist, I have had many very bad ones in my time, but if you assure me they are light, I may have to give them a try

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