Beef StroganoffPosted: 9 November 2010
>It’s officially fall. They finally turned the heat on in our building and I’ve started cooking more and more stews and heavy dishes than before. Gone are the days of grilling outside. I hate winter, although I do look forward to the holiday season. It’s the January – March time of year that I dread. As sad as I am to see winter approach, there are a handful of things that I look forward to in the winter, like knitting, Christmas decorations, baking insane amounts, stewing meats, using crock pots and watching my skin turn translucently white.
Last spring when we bought our 1/8th of a cow from the Grass Fed Cattle Co. there were a ton of roasts and big cuts of beef that I day dreamed about slow cooking but knew it would be months before we could. After all, roasting a large piece of meat in a 550-square foot condo in the summer is a terrible, terrible plan. Now that it’s chilly, I’m roasting and braising and stewing away and it’s delightful!
One of Senor’s favorite dinners is my beef stroganoff. I sort of loosely follow Mark Bittman’s recipe, although I really use it for inspiration more than anything. I really don’t know what the ‘proper’ cut of meat to use for this is. I’ve used stew meat, round steaks, chuck roasts and probably other things that I didn’t know what they were. Any meat that starts out tough and turns to butter when you cook it slowly in juices will do. Personally, I never ate the terrifying beef stroganoff, popular with cafeteria ladies around the world, so I don’t know much about the glumpy mystery substance that is mass-produced beef stroganoff. I think the recipe as I make it is pretty damn delicious though, if I do say so myself.
For this menu, I used a large round steak. I had never had a round steak before and I am delighted to say, it looks just like the cut of meat that you would see in a cartoon. Perhaps in which Tweety is pulling a large steak around and Sylvester is trying to get it? Or the kind that Garfield would eat, if he’s on an off-lasagna night? Yup, it cracked me up because it just did not look real. Luckily it was. It was also delicious.
First, I sauteed some onions and button mushrooms in butter. Then I started the meat by searing the short steak in a hot butter/olive oil mixture. Once each side was browned (about 3 minutes on each side), I turned down the heat and added a carton of beef broth. If you can, try to buy the low sodium, free range, organic stuff. The broth is totally different than the generic Swanson stuff. There’s a lot more flavor and almost no sodium. I prefer to flavor things with salt using my own tastebuds, not for packaging purposes, and I like to use a lower-sodium sea salt. More flavorful and delicious but less sodium? Win! A full sized carton is about enough to almost cover the meat. Add a cup of sour cream (*warning!* do not use Greek yogurt instead on this. You will end up with cottage cheese.), a liberal tablespoon of deli mustard (any kind will do) and season with salt and black pepper. I like to make ours a bit ‘spicy’ by adding a ton of black pepper. Turn the heat to medium-low and cover. Let the whole pan simmer for about an hour. You want to stir now and then to keep anything from sticking to the bottom.
After about an hour you can take the meat out and let it sit for a few minutes on a plate to cool. Keep the sauce simmering. It will likely need a bit more time to thicken up. Once the meat is cool enough to handle, slice it into strips or chunks. Add it back to the sauce and let it keep simmering until your sauce is a thick consistency. If it gets too thick or you think it looks dry, just add a little water and stir it in.
Occasionally I use boxed penne for the noodles in this dish, but on this night I had leftover dough from the Butternut Squash Ravioli on hand in the freezer. I let the dough thaw while I was at work and when I came home, it was room temperature. I rolled out the dough and cut it into strips about 4 inches long by half an inch wide. The dough only needs about 60 seconds in boiling water so I always do the noodles at the very last moment. Once the beef and sauce is almost done, turn a pot of water on high to boil. Roll out the dough, cut the noodles, and dump them all into the pot. You can use flour if they’re sticking, although I rarely have a problem with this dough. Let them drain in a colander for a few minutes before serving so they’re not wet. And serve with a heaping of the meat and sauce. YUM.