Friday, 20 November 2009

Budget Beef & Mushroom Stroganov, Made in Advance

I served this out of a crock-pot, which did a good job of keeping it warm on the buffet table. Stroganov, or stroganoff as it is often spelled, is a classic Russian dish of quickly cooked beef in a sauce of mushrooms, onions and sour cream, generally served with noodles. Rice or boiled potatoes are also good.

Fortunately, the leftover Stroganov was fairly photogenic, as the shot I took at the party wasn't great. Stroganov isn't supposed to keep and reheat well, although I thought mine did okay. Just don't overheat it - get it warm through, but don't boil it. If the sour cream does curdle, add a little more flour to the sauce, cook it for a minute or two, then stir in a little more sour cream.

Like the lasagne, this was a request from the guests of honour at The Party. Stroganov is usually cooked quickly, using tender (and expensive) beef tenderloin, a.k.a. filet mignon. Because I needed to make quite a lot, and because I was going to have to cook it in advance in order to get anything else done on the evening of the party I froze the partially cooked beef and onions, then thawed it and re-heated it with the mushrooms and sour cream on the day of the party. I opted to use plain old stewing beef - a good quality one of course, but it was a much less expensive option. Since cooking, cooling then re-heating stewing beef makes it more tender, it was just fine - tender and not too chewy at all. Normally I only use grass-fed beef but this wasn't, which also would have contributed to the tenderness.

I've scaled down the recipe from what I actually made, but it still makes enough for a party or large family gathering. With the holidays coming up, this is something to consider making. It's always great to be able to do as much cooking as possible in advance, and keep things simple at serving time. Be sure to get stewing beef with as little gristle and fat as possible; consult your butcher. It won't be the cheapest, but it will be a lot less money than tenderloin.

12 to 16 servings
1 1/2 hours of work, divided over several sessions

Start the Stroganov:
1.5 kilos (3 pounds) well-trimmed good stewing beef
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 or 2 large onions
3 or 4 shallots
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups beef stock

Prepare the beef by examining it for gristle or fat, and removing any you find. Slice the chunks of beef about 1/3 of an inch thick, and no larger than bite-sized.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, and brown the beef at high heat on both sides, in batches as the skillet will hold them. The browned beef should then be placed in a container for storage in either the freezer, or the fridge if you are not making it more than a day in advance. Don't put it away yet though, you still need to add the onions. The beef should not necessarily be cooked through, just browned.

Peel and slice the onions and shallots. Put the butter into the skillet (no need to clean it between times) and cook the onions and shallots in it, rather slowly, until soft and golden. Sprinkle over the flour, and add the mustard and salt. Cook for a minute or two, then slowly mix in the broth, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add all this to the beef; now you can seal it up and put it away until wanted.

Start thawing out the beef (if frozen) 24 hours before you wish to serve it. If you are not making it more than a day in advance, it can be kept refrigerated.

Finish the Stroganov:
1 kilo (2 pounds) button mushrooms
250 grams (1/2 pound) shiitake mushrooms
1/4 cup unsalted butter, about

1 cup sour cream
3 or 4 tablespoons minced fresh dill
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Clean and halve or quarter the mushrooms. Actually, it's even better if you manage to buy quite small ones to start with; then at worst some of them will need to be halved and the rest can be left whole. But clean them, yes. De-stem the shiitakes and discard* the stems, again cutting the tops in half if they are large.

Then, take some butter - a tablespoon, say - and heat it in a large skillet over high heat. Add whatever quantity of mushrooms you can get in there, and sauté them until nicely browned and soft. Put them in their own coverable dish, to be refrigerated and added to the beef just before heating and serving the Stroganov. Unless you have left the mushrooms until you are already heating the beef in preparation for serving, in which case add them to the beef now. Continue cooking the rest of the mushrooms the same way.

To serve the Stroganov, heat the beef with the mushrooms over medium heat, until very hot throughout. Make sure it is, as it mustn't boil once the sour cream goes in. Stir in the sour cream and dill, and a little more mustard if you think it could use it. Season with black pepper to taste. It can be kept hot in a crock-pot or chafing dish, if that is convenient. Serve over noodles, rice or potatoes. Don't forget to pass the dill pickles.

*Given the price of shiitakes, by "discard" I mean "put them in a dish on the windowsill where they can dry out and be saved to use in the making of stocks and broths".

1 comment:

Joanne said...

I've made beef stroganov out of a crockpot before. It just seemed like the easier thing to do and it tasted great! Yours looks very delicious. Quite hearty.