Another day, another afternoon spent gaming online with Powser. Warcraft® and Diablo III® seem to have gone out the window for me lately and I am now hooked on Torchlight II. Also, the days don’t seem to have warmed up very much and I am beginning to miss the sun even though I love the Irish weather so much ( no, really, I do). I know spring is just around the corner and things will start getting better and brighter.
I quit my job last week. So yes, I have been sitting here wondering what the hell am I going to do with my life in the meantime. I don’t have another job lined up yet and have begun obsessing if my decision was a tad rash. Friends and family have been supportive tho and they keep me on the straight and narrow – focused on the positives rather than the retrospectives. Time to move on to bigger and better things! Least for now I have some time to indulge on my cooking again while I recuperate from some stress-induced issues. Cooking grounds me while gaming sorts out the social aspect of things. Whenever I overthink things or worry over things I cannot change I can always rely on cooking to redirect my emotions and to occupy my thoughts in a positive manner. And my online buddy keeps me company most days and offers me an outlet to vent and talk about things; so far, no topic is off limits.
Powser, not his real-life name, lives in Sweden and it was he who planted this idea in my head to cook Beef Stroganoff in the first place. We generally game for hours on end and this timeline typically runs thru mealtimes. Sometimes we sustain ourselves with simple snacks (bad habit) … other times we have more substantial food. On this particular day Pow said he was hungry enough to warrant a cooked meal – sausage stroganoff – a childhood favourite of his. This in turn made me think of the conventional beef variety and ‘what if‘ I actually got off my butt to make the dish myself.
As with anything new I cook I have to look up some background info on the subject to aquaint myself with at least a bit of history, especially if it is a well known classic dish. I have heard of the dish often enough but I think I have only ever eaten it once, and it wasn’t very pleasant; foodcourt variety.
It would appear that this recipe is as Russian as Russian can get, yet it has a French twist. Wealthy Russians living in the late 1800’s looked to fashionable and extravagant France as the gold standard benchmark for all things chic and trendy. It was considered upper-class if you had a stately home furnished with the finest French-style furniture, maintained and cleaned by French maids. The pleasure gardens were designed by the best French architects and even the language of the aristocracy was French. Everyone obsessed over being like their Parisian counterparts, they even dressed like them! So it is not a surprise then that the food served in these stately homes was French cuisine cooked by the very best French chefs of the time. The origins of this recipe seems to have come from a French chef named Charles Briere, who in 1891, won a cooking contest with his dish – beef cooked in mustard and sour cream. The dish was cooked using classic French technique whilst also incorporating traditional Russian flavours (sour cream served with meats)¹.
Wonderful to know how that all fits together, eh? Can always count on the French to make a simple dish last a lifetime.
Anyway, I got all the ingredients ready the night before and today I consciously stayed off the video games to focus on cooking. I had two things to cook : Chilli con carne and this Stroganoff. The boyfriend really (REALLY) insisted that he wanted chilli con carne on a baked potato for dinner tonight, and he certainly wasn’t partaking in any Stroganoff as it contained an unholy amount of mushrooms. The ingredient list for the dish is pretty straight forward – beef, mushrooms, sour cream, mustard, beef stock. A few other things come in to bolster the main ingredients, but nothing fancy.
1 – 2 good quality steaks, like a strip or sirloin
2 cups chestnut mushrooms (brown field mushrooms)
1 red onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
25 g butter, unsalted
60 mls white wine
1 tbsp flour
1 cup beef stock, unsalted
5 sage leaves, chopped
1 heaped tbsp sour cream
1/2 cup cream
1 tsp fine Dijon mustard
1 tbsp garlic and chive cream cheese (*optional)
chives or parsley to finish
salt and pepper to taste.
I am aware that my version may not be what is considered authentic, but I like the flavour profile of how this version turned out so go with me on this. Adding the sage leaves was the best thing I ever did! Also the cream cheese was a last minute spur of the moment addition, but you can leave it out if you like. I didn’t have proper unsalted beef stock on hand so I used a Knorr beef stock pot melted in some hot water. Gather all ingredients and get to prepping.
Salt beef steaks generously on both sides then slice them into strips. I generally do this to impart some seasoning into the meat before they are browned. I did not flour the meat pieces at this stage as I will be making a roux later on in the pan. Notice that I am using a cut of meat that is fairly marbled … yum yum.
Heat oil in a heavy pan and start browning off the meat slices. Make sure the heat is up and that you do not over-crowd the pan to allow proper browning to take place. Feel free to do this in batches if making a larger quantity. I didn’t need to as I was only using a single portion of steak.
Once the meat is all brown, remove from the pan and keep aside. In the same pan toss in the lump of butter and start sauteeing the mushrooms, onions and garlic on medium heat as you don’t want to burn the garlic. Toss this about until the mushrooms get soft and the onions are nice and fragrant. I made the mistake of slicing my mushrooms a little too thin here. For any kind of braising process I think it prudent to keep things fairly chunky to enable it to hold its shape after such a prolonged cooking process. Would be nice to bite down on a piece of mushroom and know it is a mushroom.
Once the mushrooms have softened and the pan is starting to look a little dry and brown on the bottom add in the white wine to deglaze that yummy fond. Nothing fancy, just a normal every day wine will do. Pour yourself a glass while you are at it.
Stir the bottom of the pan until nothing more is sticking to it. Cook off the alcohol and reduce the amount in the pan by about half to two-thirds. Add the beef and all its juices back into the pan and toss with the mushrooms. Sprinkle with flour and toss well.
Add the beef stock and stir through. The mixture will thicken almost immediately. Be careful if you are using stock pots like I am here. As the liquid braises and concentrates so will the flavour. Stock pots can be very salty so use less in the beginning – you can always add more seasoning later. Remember, the beef was already salted earlier as well.
Add the chopped sage leaves here and allow flavour to simmer with the broth. Cover and cook on very low heat for 1-hour. There should be just the barest hints of bubbles coming up from the liquid. Uncover and give it a gentle stir at about the halfway mark. Give the meat a bit of a poke with a fork to test the tenderness. Continue cooking, covered, until the hour is up.
Once the meat is fork tender and the cooking liquid has thickened to a stew consistency it is time to finish off the dish and serve.
Spoon in the sour cream, Dijon mustard, cream cheese and cream. Stir everything through and taste for seasoning here. Adjust accordingly.
Whack the heat up to high and allow the liquid to thicken. If it becomes too thick then you can simply thin it out by adding a splash more cream. Garnish with chopped chives or parsley.
Now, traditionally I believe this gets served on buttered egg pasta but I like mine on rice. Doesn’t matter how you want to serve this I can tell you right now that this came out AMAZING! I don’t know why I have not made this any sooner before. The creamy texture is complimented by the deep beefy mushroomy flavours, perfect for all those chilly nights in with this comfort food of royals. Hallelujah, I have found me another winner to keep in the books. It would be perfect for entertaining family or for bring-a-dish parties.
Oh, speaking of mushrooms, I realize I have extra mushrooms and a half bottle of cream left in the fridge. I think it is the making of a pot of creamy mushroom soup, something I have not made before either. Anyway, do enjoy this version of Beef Stroganoff with rice and let me know what you think and how you get on. Leave comments below. And thank you Powser for the idea in the first place … I dedicate this post to you. <3 Until next time.
~ Enjoy! ~
- As Russian As It Gets : The History of Beef Stroganoff. – http://forknplate.com/2014/12/01/as-russian-as-it-gets-the-history-of-beef-stroganoff/
- Beef Stroganoff – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_Stroganoff