Friday, February 26, 2010

Beef Stroganoff - my way

The morning after report.

The beef was still pretty frozen when I took it out to cook. I love my new fridge, but it's sometimes a bit too good at keeping cold things cold. The ice crystals made the beef very easy to slice. I cut the strips in half (it was a wide piece of meat), but that was just a stylistic preference.

The meat cooked easily and I got a nice brown coating on the bottom of my pan. I'm getting better at being able to watch a pan and not fuss with it. If the meat doesn't lay long enough before you try to flip it -- it will either stick and tear (leaving little meaty bits behind) or not deposit the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Once cooked, and set aside, I added 2 whole shallots (for some reason, I read the recipe as requiring 1 cup not 1/2 cup -- sigh) and 8 oz of sliced button mushrooms (I halved the slices because the SO doesn't like mushrooms--so small=good). I turned down the heat and let it cook, stirring occasionally and trying really hard not to scrape up too much of the brown bits. The mushroom stems went into my collection of food scraps for soup. The SO tends to notice the stems way more than the tops, so I don't often cook with them.

The chicken broth (I prefer the flavour of chicken broth to beef broth--and I had fresh homemade chicken broth in the fridge as compared to the box of stuff in the pantry) went in with the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. And then I stirred. My arms got a workout from the stirring. I scraped every bit of brown stuff up off the bottom and into the broth. Then I added the meat back into the pan (flank steak is pretty tough and the extra cooking time helped tenderize it a bit).

I set the noodles to boil, and ignored the sauce as it reduced (I did up the heat just a smidge under the sauce--because I'm impatient when my kitchen starts to become so wonderfully fragrant).

As the noodles were done, and the (nuked frozen) vegetables were ready I made the realization that I was out of sour cream. So I used unflavoured yogurt. Unfortunately, I didn't strain it. It had been sitting for a while, so I poured off the liquid and scooped from what was left -- but once added to the sauce, it separated rather than becoming creamy. I put the meat back into the pan and stirred it all together. The sauce wasn't a pale brown or a pink, instead it was brown with a multitude of white pokadots!

I served the mix (and the rather thin sauce) over egg noodles with a side of green beans for me and corn for him. It tasted delicious, but it didn't look too good.

Now I know better. This morning I googled "sour cream substitution" and realize that I should have (a) drained the yogurt for at least 30 minutes, (b) added 1 tablespoon flour and 2 teaspoons water to the mix before adding. This replaces some of the strained-out liquid without adding an acid, and the flour provides the thickening-agent that the fat (in the sour cream) would provide.

The recipe came out really well. We both liked it, and since I had friends cancel out on me (I had intended to double the recipe), I made 1/2, have leftovers for lunch today and have enough ingredients to make it again next week. It's a win-win situation.

The recipe
  • 1 lb steak (top round or flank), cut into strips
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (low fat, low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 4 servings of egg noodles.
  • 3/4 cup unflavoured yogurt (strained for 30 minutes)
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp water
  1. Measure out 1 cup of yogurt and place it in a fine sieve or piece of cheese cloth suspended above a bowl. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the steak to the desired size and lay out the pieces.
  3. Sprinkle steak strips with salt and pepper.
  4. Dice your shallots and cut up your mushrooms.
  5. In large non-stick frying pan, heat oil over high heat.
  6. Add meat in single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until just brown on outside, about 1 minute per side. Reduce heat if the pan begins to smoke or if meat gets more than a bit brown. You're building a layer of brown on your pan here -- so patience is the rule.
  7. Remove meat to plate and set aside.
  8. In same frying pan, melt margarine over medium-high heat.
  9. Add shallots and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add mushrooms and cook until tender and all liquid is evaporated, 8-10 minutes.
  11. Put a pan on to start cooking the egg noodles. Bring the water to a roiling boil.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.
  13. Return steak to pan and pour broth mixture over.
  14. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the brown bits up into the liquid.
  15. Simmer until liquid reduces and thickens slightly, about 12 minutes.
  16. Cook the egg noodles (ideally they're done the same time as your stroganoff. Your stroganoff can wait, the egg noodles can't).
  17. Prepare your steamed vegetables.
  18. Mix the flour and water together to form a slurry. No lumps. Add it to the strained yogurt.
  19. Add the yogurt mixture to the pan (stir to incorporate) and cook on low heat until heated through.
  20. Serve over freshly-cooked egg noodles with a side of steamed (nuked) vegetables.

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