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Beef Stroganoff

Weekends mean cooking a meal that takes a little more time and involvement…and deserves a little more time to be eaten.  Beef Stroganoff fit the bill for Sunday dinner.

Basically I can’t resist most “comfort food”.  I love it.  I think I could survive on mashed potatoes alone and come by it honestly, since my grandmother used up leftover mashed potatoes by making mashed potato sandwiches.  Yup…bread with mashed potatoes.  Carbs, carbs and more carbs!

The recipe is courtesy of Cook’s Illustrated…one of our favorite cooking magazines.  Typically, beef stroganoff is made with tenderloin…we used shoulder tip (aka steak tips) and had the butcher just slice off about 1.25 pounds for us, which we then Sliced into manageable pieces to marinate and sear.

Once the meat is sliced, poke holes in each piece and on each side with a fork.  The marinade is simply soy sauce…which according to Cook’s, ups the meaty flavor and the juiciness.

I used 2-3 teaspoons and let it marinate for about an hour covered in the fridge.

While the beef was marinating, I prepped all the other vegetables.  Mushrooms first – brushed off and then sliced into quarters.

Look at those mushrooms.  I love them.  I think I could also survive on mushrooms cooked in butter…add those to any dish, and I’m there.

Now here is an unusual step in the mushroom preparation.  I was a little skeptical as well, but I think it was a success.  Mushrooms are full of water, therefore browning them can take quite a while as you have to cook the water out of them first before they’ll begin to brown in the pan.  Cook’s solution is to throw all those beautiful quartered mushrooms into a microwave safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for 4-5 minutes, or until they’ve reduced in volume by half.

Upon removing them from the microwave, you pour off the water in the bottom of the bowl and then when you toss them into the hot pan, they begin to cook and brown much more quickly.

Next vegetable – onion.  Dice and set aside.

Next, prepare all ingredients for the sauce.  Clockwise from top left – beef stock, sour cream, white wine, mixture of dry mustard, sugar, cracked black pepper and water, flour and last, tomato paste.  Have these prepped and ready.

Meat – post marinade and pre-sear.  No the meat didn’t absorb all that soy sauce…we took the meat out of the marinade and patted it dry.

Place a pan on the heat and use a tbsp of oil.  I prefer grape seed oil as it has a very high smoke point and a neutral flavor.  Heat the pan to almost smoking and add the meat, making sure to not crowd each piece.  Once the meat is down, resist the urge to move it around a lot as you won’t get a good sear on it if you do.  I don’t remember the amount of time I cooked these…maybe 4-5 minutes on the first side and 3 on the second side.  Remove the meat from the pan and set aside to rest…I cover with a little foil to keep it warm…although for this it doesn’t really matter…and remember the meat continues to cook while it rests.

All the browned bits, aka the best deliciousness ever, are really important.  Technically called the fond – they provide the deep color of the final sauce and immense loads of flavor.  They’re stuck now…but when you add vegetables or any liquid, the pan is de-glazed and it develops into the sauce.  Add the onions and par-cooked mushrooms and cook down until the mushrooms have browned and the onions are soft.

After resting the meat, it looks like this.  Some drippings have accumulated on the plate…which all get added back into the pan.  Once the meat has rested, slice it across the grain into slices that are just small enough to fit in your mouth.  Once you cut into these…you’ll wonder why, in fact, you’re not just eating them immediately…just as they are…because that is how good it looks!  Be patient!

Onions are soft, mushrooms are browned.

At this point, sprinkle the flour into the hot pan and dump in the tomato sauce.  Once you stir it up…it’ll look pasty and chunky.  Continue to stir as you’re trying to cook the flour a bit and get rid of any raw flour taste.  The flour is the thickener and if it is not cooked enough…the suace can end up gummy.

Now is the time to add the mustard mixture, the beef broth, and the wine.  Poof, voila…delicious sauce…golden goodness…and it’s not even finished yet.  Stir it all together to make sure that the flour chunks have incorporated into the sauce.

Here’s the money shot…mmmmm…..beeeeef!  Really – at this point Woody and I almost didn’t bother finishing the dish as it looked so good.  Also, at this point Woody said “If you can cook steaks this well in a pan at home…how come we don’t have them all the time…?”  So add the beef in and stir until it is coated in sauce and warmed through.

Final dish!  You may have noticed a few int he series missing…as we were in the rush to get everything on the table at the same time.  Here’s what you missed…just before you are ready to serve, add in the sour cream…this is the essential ingredient that defines the dish as Beef Stroganoff.  It adds (surprise) a sour, tangy flavor.  Again, stir until it is well incorporated and warm throughout.  Serve on egg noodles or rice, and top with fresh chopped parsley.

And then…it was gone.  So good…and good for leftovers too!  (which is important since we made enough to feed an army!)  Complete recipe will be added to this post soon!

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. DADmo #

    I’m coming over!!

    March 5, 2010
  2. Mark #

    Great write-up and awesome photos!

    March 14, 2010
  3. Claire #

    my favorite part about eating stroganoff is the really juvenile jokes that come along with it…”hey man, you like stroganoff”.

    May 7, 2010

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