Oven-finished beef Stroganoff is irresistible A slice of competition
By Wanda Adams
Got a request just recently for a good beef Stroganoff. Is there a BAD beef Stroganoff? I love that marriage of beefy richness and tangy sour cream. Love it. Have been making it almost as long as I've been cooking.
When I was in college in Washington state, a novice cook in my 20s, I went, one day, to visit the mother of my best friend who lived not far from campus. I asked her if I could look through her file of recipe cards. She handed me a pad of small note papers, and I went to work.
Among the recipes was a rather interesting (and surely not authentic) recipe for beef Stroganoff that involved vinegar and shoyu (I am not kidding). I made notes of all the recipes I wanted and pinned them together with a giant safety pin because she didn't have a stapler. I still have that priceless collection, safety pin and all, and I thank her whenever I use one of the recipes.
And guess what? Although she had no connection to Hawai'i, her name was Aloha.
But I digress. As usual.
Back to beef Stroganoff.
For a discussion of the history of beef Stroganoff, I refer you to www.foodtimeline.org. It's complicated. No one agrees about where this recipe came from or when or how, exactly, it should be made. Bottom line: It always involves strips of beef, onions and sour cream. It probably originated in the late 19th or early 20th century. There are dozens of ways to make it. They are all delicious.
Basic technique doesn't differ: Saute beef. Saute onions. Saute mushrooms. Add whatever (herbs). Thicken with flour. Stir in sour cream at end.
But I received this one recipe from reader Judy Halvorson that was rather interesting. It suggests making the Stroganoff a night in advance and then baking it, to intensify the flavors and tenderize the meat. I made a half portion of it and, on the night when it was in the oven, when hubby came home, he said, sniffing deeply, "Is that beef Stroganoff?"
And when I brought it out of the oven, he inhaled it.
• 3 pounds round or chuck steak
• 6 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 large onions, chopped or sliced (I sliced mine)
• 12 to 16 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
• 3/4 cup brandy
• 3 tablespoons butter
• 3 tablespoons flour
• 1 can beef consomme
• 1 pint sour cream
• Salt and pepper to taste
Trim fat from meat and cut across grain into long, thin strips, 1/4-inch thick.
Heat half the olive oil in large oven-proof pan (such as a Dutch oven), and add meat. Add beef and cook on low, covered, turning meat several times, for 35 minutes.
Remove meat from pan and reserve. Wipe out pan if necessary. Add 2 tablespoons oil and saute onions until soft. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and reserve with meat. Add remaining olive oil to pan and saute mushrooms; remove and set aside.
Add butter to pan juices, whisk in flour and simmer, whisking until smooth. Add consomme and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream until smooth, then add meat, onions and mushrooms back to pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat and chill for 24 hours. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Two hours before serving, place in oven, uncovered. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and flavorful.
Serve over rice or noodles.
Makes 6-8 servings.
• Per serving (for 6 servings): 870 calories, 65 g fat, 27 g saturated fat, 190 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 14 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g sugar, 54 g protein
Tasting notes: I skipped the brandy because I didn't have any. You could use sherry or whatever liquor's on hand, or skip it. Beef consomme is hard to come by these days; I used a strong beef stock. I didn't go through all the steps of browning the meat, onions and mushrooms separately; I just browned the meat, covered, then added the onions and cooked until limp and translucent and then I added the mushrooms and cooked just for a few minutes. Finished the dish with the remaining ingredients and heated in the oven the next day.