This homemade goulash, which can easily be argued as one of the best, is an easy-to-make weeknight meal that comes together in under an hour. And much of the time is spent waiting for the sauce to cook. Everything is made in one skillet with rich, almost caramel-like tomato flavors. It’s super yummy and perfect for cozy nights!
In a large oven-safe 12-inch skillet, heat 1 tbsp of neutral oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion, garlic, and ground beef. Break the beef into small bite-size pieces and cook until the beef is browned and the onion has softened, 8-10 minutes.
1 large onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1 lb ground beef
Once the beef is cooked, add the tomato paste. Stir and cook the tomato paste until it is worked into the beef and is darker in color, 6-8 minutes.
6 oz tomato paste
Add the salt, black pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, and paprika. Stir the spices and herbs in and add the tomato juice, tomato sauce, beef stock, and diced tomatoes with their liquid. Pour in the dried macaroni and stir to combine.
1 tsp salt, 1 ½ tsp paprika, 1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 15-oz can tomato sauce, 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, 2 cups beef stock, 2 cups tomato juice, 1 lb macaroni
Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the pasta is cooked, 20-30 minutes. Simmering instead of boiling in water will take the pasta longer to cook than the box instructions indicate. While cooking, stir every few minutes to encourage the pasta to cook evenly.
Once the pasta is cooked, remove it from the heat. Sprinkle the top with the shredded cheese and place in the oven. Bake the dish until the cheese is melted and bubbling, 10-12 minutes. Once baked, remove from the oven and serve.
In most cases, when building flavor, you want to allow the onion to cook for a time by itself. Then, towards the end of the cooking time, add in the garlic, so it does not burn. In this recipe, the onion, garlic, and ground beef are all added simultaneously at the beginning of the cooking to minimize the overall time.
If your ground beef has a higher fat content, some liquid may be left in the pan after it cooks with the onion in garlic. If so, drain off the excess liquid, so it does not affect the rest of the recipe.
When the ground beef and tomato paste are caramelized, the mixture will look somewhat dry, and the meat will tend to want to stick to the bottom of the skillet. At that point, you know that it’s time to move on and add in the remaining spices and tomato liquids.
Once the macaroni has cooked with the meat and tomato mixture, the dish is ready to eat. Rather than add the cheese on top and place it in the oven, the mixture could be eaten. But adding the cheese on top and a bit of baking time makes for a slightly more elevated meal.