This recipe which I am sharing with you today for Goulash, is an old, old, old recipe. It is something which I have been making for my family for many, many years. When my children were growing up I used to call it Monkey in the Middle.

There was a method to my madness. I knew they would probably balk at something called Goulash, but give them a meal with a cute name, and it changes everything. I would put some rice on the plate, fill it with goulash, surround it with corn and it became Monkey in the Middle, infinitely more desireable than . . .  Goulash!

This was always my middle son Doug's favourite meal.  He has always loved it and through the years he always was telling me that no matter what, he could never get it to taste as good as the one I made for him.

He came over to visit me from PEI yesterday and we made it together.  We discovered that all these years he has been making Swiss Steak, not Monkey in the Middle. No wonder it never tasted the same! DUH!

So yesterday, for the first time in many, many years . . .  we cooked together.  Actually Doug did all the cooking. I just told him how to do it. 

Its actually his Birthday today so this is a very fitting recipe to share today in honor of my now 39 year old son! We almost lost him last year to a heart attack.  I am so grateful that we didn't and that he is still around for me to hug.  And many hugs were given yesterday. It had been 8 years since we had seen each other.


He did all the cutting and cooking, and with a not so very good knife. My mom's knives are so old and falling apart and somewhat dangerous to use. I need to get some more. 

I pretty much left my knives behind.  That's okay. New page now. Moving forward.


 Brown food.  Brown food never photographs well. I think you pretty much need to be a professional photographer to be able to take good photos of brown food.  

Don't let these photos turn you off of this very delicious recipe. This recipe is fabulously tasty and really simple to make. It uses simple ingredients as well.


 This is a recipe with a real history  Back when I was a very young bride I moved far away across the broad expanse of Canada to live on the wild Western frontier.

Ok, so it was really a vast urban centre . . . Calgary. But it might as well have been the wild Western frontier, because I was young and away from my mom and dad for pretty much the first time in my life. I had nobody to call on for advice or help or company.

That is until I met Lil. Lil was the mother of one of my ex husband's best mates. She lived in a small town in  the northern part of Alberta called Olds. She was the salt of the earth. 
She was rather robust and had no teeth. Her heart was filled with the milk of charity and she gathered me into her home and her family. She became my mom away from mom.


I loved to go and spend the weekend at their place. They had an old British Bulldog that used to pull our daughter Eileen around in her walker by holding gently on to her hand with his mouth . . . and Mr McNevin, Lil's husband, was very much a grandfatherly figure to my son Anthony.
He had flown helicopters for heli-skiing and was just loaded with interesting and colourful stories! They had a houseful of girls, each one more colourful than the last . . . it was there that I learned how to play Canasta and it was there that I ate pistachio nuts for the very first time. To a young mum and wife, away from her parents for the first time, their home was a wonderful haven.


 Lil was a fabulous cook, a very unpretentious cook. Her food was lumberjack food . . . as robust and loveable as she was, filling, uncomplicated and quite, quite delicious! 

This is one of her recipes.  I have been cooking it for and pleasing my family with this recipe for over 40 years now.


 It may look a little bit like brown slop.  But I can promise you it is anything but brown slop.  

It is a delicious gravy, filled with flavour and with tender chunks of beef.  I don't eat red meat very often actually. This is one of the few ways I enjoy it.  Mrs McNevin's Goulash.


It is simple and unpretentious. Just like her. It is the kind of food that screams Home Sweet Home.

That is the best kind of food you know, Home Sweet Home food.  The kind of food that builds taste memories.


Family food and family recipes.  This is the kind of dish that family carries in their hearts down through the generations. The kind of dish that children long to come home to, because of that one secret ingredient.
Love.  Family recipes always contain that beautiful ingredient called Love.  Its not elusive.  Its real. And it automatically adds a special something to everything you cook.

It doesn't come in a jar or a package.  It isn't something you can touch, but boy oh boy, it sure makes things, even brown things . . .  taste spectacularly delicious.

If you are wanting to cook your family something hearty which is simple to make and oh so tasty, you really need to cook them this.  Fabulous with rice or mashed potatoes.  It also freezes very well in single portions for you to thaw out and reheat at a future date. I think you will love it as much as we do! It might even become a family taste memory for your family as well!

Mrs McNevin's Goulash

Mrs McNevin's Goulash

Yield: 4 - 6
Author: Marie Rayner
prep time: 30 Mincook time: 2 Hourtotal time: 2 H & 30 M
I have an old blue binder that holds recipes that I have collected from friends and family and magazines throughout the many years. This one is a real treasure and I never make it but what I don’t think of Mrs. McNevin. The mother of a friend of ours, she was so kind to me, a young bride living far away from the bosom of my own family. She took me under her wing and treated me just like one of her own. This deliciously spicy stewed meat goes very well with rice or noodles.


  • 2 pounds of stewing beef, trimmed of any fat and cut into cubes
  • 2 TBS cooking oil
  • 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • ½ cup tomato catsup
  • 2 TBS Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 TBS soft light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
  • ½ tsp dry mustard powder
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup water


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Season the meat lightly and coat it in the flour.
  2. Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet and add the meat. Brown it very well on all sides. Add the onion and garlic, Cook for a few minutes longer until the vegetables are softened and quite fragrant.
  3. Add the catsup, Worcestershire sauce, sugar, paprika and dry mustard. Stir it all together well. Stir in the water.
  4. Tip it all into a casserole with a lid and then put it into the oven to cook for 2 hours or so, until the meat is very tender and the sauce is thickened. Delicious!
Did you make this recipe?
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This is an older photograph of it from a much earlier post. Before I knew how to take better photographs.  Brown food is alway only ever going to be brown food I guess! 

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