Bowl of Love. Bowl of Strog.
Beef Stroganoff. Russians only smile when they eat this bowl of love (just kidding) Stroganoff dates back to the mid 19th century in Russia- who knew?! It's a dish that a lot of newly wed brides made back in the 50's and 60's, and still has come a long way since then, but the bones of the recipe are still the same. It's an inexpensive dish, using tougher cuts of beef, stewed and braised all afternoon in a thick gravy and finished with sour cream for even more added richness. I like to upgrade it a bit, using a variety of mushrooms, some delicious wine, and fresh herbs.
1 pound of New Boston Beef Stew Meat
1/2 cup flour, seasoned with 1tbs salt, and 1 tsp pepper 2 pounds of your favorite mushrooms- we like quartering crimini and button mushrooms, and slicing shiitake, and even some other wild mushrooms if you have access.
1 large sweet onion, peeled, and sliced thinly.
2 cups beef stock- home made or your favorite boxed kind.
2 cups of red wine- make it something you'd drink, because as the wine reduces, its flavor will intensify. Also, pour yourself a glass!
2 tablespoons minced garlic
3 bay leaves
1 sprig of rosemary
2 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup sour cream
Start with a pound, or 2, (or 3!) of NBB stew meat. Preheat your favorite pot that has a lid over medium-high heat, with a few teaspoons of canola oil, and a generous pad of butter. One of my favorite tools in the kitchen, which is pretty under utilized, is a ziplock bag. I'm sure some of you are thinking "what a waste of plastic" "plastic is so bad for the Earth", and yes, you're right, but I'm picking my battles, and I'm sure to recycle said Ziplock bag, and save my hands for cleaning other things, instead of a bowl with paper mache. Toss about half a cup of flour into your bag, and season it really well with salt and pepper. Drop your stew meat right into the bag too, and seal it up. Give it a good toss around, working the flour in and around each piece of meat. Using tongs, lower each piece of meat into the oil carefully as to not splash yourself, and leave enough room so they can all brown and get a nice crust. If you over crowd the pan, the beef will steam, and make for a soggy mess- not good for strog. Remove each piece once all sides have a nice brown crust, and reserve on a plate. You aren't looking to cook the beef at this stage, just a really nice, deep, golden brown. In the same pot, add in your mushrooms and onions, and turn the heat up a tad. You want the vegetables to get nice and soft, and scrape up all those burnt bits of flavor on the bottom of the pot- this is called the fond. Be fond of the fond, it's good stuff! Once your mushrooms and onions are well aquatinted with one another, add your garlic and cook for about a minute. Deglaze the pot with your stock and wine, again, scraping up all the fond and into your liquid. Bring this to a boil, and add your herbs- add the whole sprigs right in there. Add your beef back into the pot, and give everything a good stir. The liquid in your pot should alllllmost cover the beef. Reduce the heat to a slow simmer. You don't want this to boil with the beef in it for too long, it will cook too quickly, and can make your meat tough and dry. Throw the lid almost on, and leave a little open space for the liquid to evaporate, and reduce. Let this hang out for a good hour, and then put the lid all the way on to intensify the heat, and let the pot braise for as long as you can, but at least another hour. Check on it periodically, making sure the liquid doesn't over reduce, and burn the bottom, again, this should be a slow simmer. When you are almost ready to serve, boil up some eggs noodles, they are the best friend to beef stroganoff- and they hold all that gravy perfectly. Reduce the heat on your beef, and ladle out some of the gravy into a measuring cup- you are just using this as a vessel, not actually for measuring purposes, so use one with a spout that's a little roomy. Spoon in about half a cup of sour cream to the measuring cup, and stir this all together. You are doing what's called tempering the sour cream. You are taking the hot gravy, and adding it to cold sour cream to bring the temperatures closer together with equal parts of hot liquid to cold stuff. Now, you can add this mixture back into the big pot, and using a wisk, combine all the gravy together with the sour cream mixture. If you were to add the sour cream right to the pot, you risk "breaking" the sour cream, and curdling the milk in the product. Yucky- and pretty much impossible to fix. Taste test your gravy, remove the sprigs of rosemary and thyme, and your bay leaf, re-season with salt and pepper, and spoon over hot, buttery noodles. Garnish with a some fresh grated parmesan cheese and prepare to sleep like a baby with a very fully belly.