Venison & Porter Goulash


This may possibly be the greatest dish to ever come out of The Beer Spy kitchen, and I’m not exaggerating at all when I say that a part of my soul is saddened when I realize I’ve savored the final spoonful.

My wife’s Austrian grandmother came to the US as a war bride in the 1940s, and she brought with her a recipe for traditional Hungarian goulash that she still makes today. This hearty dish has big chunks of beef that are slow simmered in a rich broth with onions and Hungarian paprika.

Goulash is also a dish that my mother-in-law, and my wife, both make when the season turns cold. They’ve each made their own little changes to the recipe to make it their own, but they still hold true to the original.

Whether our family gathers in Texas, Tennessee, Austria, or Maryland there is a very good chance that someone is preparing to make a goulash with their own personal twist. Its not exactly a family tradition, but I’ve lost count of how many times we have gathered three generations around a table with a simmering pot of this dish. There is no other meal that reminds me more of the family I married into.

My wife’s changes to her grandmother’s recipe have been inspired by visits with family in Austria, and over the years she has developed one recipe for beef goulash, and another for using wild game.

This venison goulash uses traditional European game spices like juniper and caraway along with the requisite Hungarian paprika. It also uses Porter, a style of beer that is known for its flavors of roast malt, bitter chocolate, and toasted nuts. It adds additional richness to an already incredible stew.

When we make this dish we go with Lucky 7 Porter from Evolution Brewing Co. in Salisbury, MD. It is one of my favorite Maryland beers for pairing with hearty stews and other delicacies that I consider cold weather cuisine.


(Makes 2 large portions, or 4 small ones)


– 1 lb. venison shoulder, trimmed and cubed

NOTE: You can replace the venison with lean beef, but nothing beats a tender cut of white tail deer or elk.

– 1-2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

– 2 small white onions, diced

– 4 shallots, diced

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 2 Tbsp flour

– 1 Lucky 7 Porter

NOTE: If you can’t find Lucky 7 then try another porter, Belgian strong dark, bock, or another dark malty beer. But seriously, try Lucky 7 porter.

– 1 liberal Tbsp Hungarian paprika (Go for the good stuff, it makes a difference)

– 1 heaping Tbsp Tomato paste

– 1 cup beef broth

– 1 beef bullion cube or packet

– 1 tsp Caraway seed, ground

– Dash of allspice (less than 1/4 tsp)

– 6 whole cloves

– 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, stemmed

– 1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary

– 6 juniper berries, squeezed or crushed

– 6 peppercorns

– 2 bay leaves

– 1 Tbsp. lingonberry jam or red currant jam

– Salt and pepper, to taste

– Vegetable oil

– Spätzle


NOTE: Spätzle are egg noodles commonly found in Southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Hungary. You can usually find them at your grocers international aisle.


1. In a large, heavy pot, heat a few Tbsp vegetable oil until very hot.

2. Dry venison cubes on all sides with a towel. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Coat meat in 1 Tbspn flour. Sear in batches in the hot oil to brown and develop a nice crust all over. Remove from the pot with a slotted spoon and set aside.

3. Add the onions and shallots to the pot, adding more oil as necessary. When they begin to turn translucent, add garlic.  Continue to cook until garlic is fragrant (about 1 min).


4. Sprinkle the cooked onions and garlic with the 1 Tbsp. flour and 1 Tbsp tomato paste. Stir with a wooden spoon. Cook 1-2 min (enough to slightly cook raw flour and tomato paste)

5. Pour in 1 bottle of beer…Deglaze the pan with beer, stirring up the browned bits with the wooden spoon. Return the meat to the pot. Add the beef broth and bullion. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.


6. Stir in the remaining spices (thyme, rosemary, juniper berries, peppercorns, bay leaves, caraway, allspice, and clove).  Add 1 Tbsp. lingonberry or currant jam.

7.  cover and simmer on low approx. 30 minutes (longer if you use a tougher cut), uncover and continue to simmer for 30 minutes before serving (until thick) , stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender.

8. Prepare the spätzle according to the directions on the package. Serve the goulash over the spätzle, or with white bread…or both

9. Almost all versions of goulash are even better the next day. I have no idea if that is true with this version because it has never survived long enough to become leftovers. If you manage to keep this overnight then please let me know how it tastes the next day!

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