Monday, February 14, 2011

Beef Stroganoff for My Valentine

Here it is....the meal that my husband survived many years ago.  The first meal I ever prepared for him could have been his last.  I've long passed the embarrassment of it all.  After all, I was young and culinarily unsophisticated.  I was a career girl.

To set the scene, this young man was different from the others I dated.  He was European.  He really was interested in art, classical music and Shakespeare.  I had to impress him.  I went to the library and started going through the Betty Crocker cookbook.  I spent a long time reading recipes and picturing them on my table.  When I found a recipe for beef stroganoff I knew I had my entree.  I made a list of the ingredients, checked the book out of the library and headed to the market.

Noodles, onions, garlic (dried and in a bottle), canned mushrooms, beef broth, sour cream were all easy to find but.....where was the 2"x3/4"x1/4" pieces of, as I recall, top round (or maybe chuck)?  After stopping at three super markets, I was almost in tears.  Then I remembered a butcher shop on the other side of town.  Alas, there was no package of beef cut into those dimensions.  I did, however, talk the butcher into cutting some for me.  Whew!

Andrew was coming for dinner at 7 p.m. the next day.  I was up early to clean the apartment and set the table.  Then I got to work preparing the stroganoff.  I wanted to be sure that I could get it right and decided to leave myself enough time to prepare another dish (goodness knows what!) if it wasn't good.  By 3 p.m., the entree was ready.  It was quite good.  I felt confident he would be really impressed.  I put  it in the oven set to the lowest possible temperature to keep it warm.  I slightly covered it to keep it moist.  There it sat, at the perfect temperature to cause a trip to the E.R., for the next FOUR HOURS!!!!!  Thank goodness it all ended well and, with many adjustments, we've enjoyed the dish many times since then.  My recipe today bears little resemblance to "Betty's".

Here's how I make it today.  All of the chopping and dicing can be done beforehand and the dish put together at the last minute.  To make the cutting of the beef easier, I partially freeze it.

Beef Stroganoff From a Writer's Kitchen

4 tsp vegetable oil
1 pound filet mignon or rib eye steaks, thinly sliced into
  2"x3/4"x1/4 pieces, approximately
1 8 oz package of cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 small onion, quartered and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp flour
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek, or sour cream

For serving:

4 cups of cooked and lightly buttered noodles
Chopped parsley or chopped green onion tops

1.  Heat 2 tsp of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the beef and cook quickly until browned on both sides.  This should take no more than 5 minutes.  Transfer the beef and juices to a heated plate and lightly cover with a paper towel.
2.  Heat the remaining oil and add the mushrooms.  Saute for about 3 minutes then add the onions sauteing for another 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute more.  Sprinkle with the flour and mix well.  Stir in the tomato paste.  Stir in the beef broth, wine and salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens slightly.
3.  Lower the heat and stir in the yogurt or sour cream until incorporated.  Do not boil.  Stir in the beef  and slowly heat through.
4.  Serve over the buttered noodles.  Sprinkle with the parsley or green onion tops.

Put a pretty iris bouquet on the table!

And enjoy!