Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff was not featured in the rotation of familiar weeknight dinners like goulash, tuna casserole, and meatloaf in our house.  Mushrooms were frowned upon, and I don't think we bought too much meat from the tender areas of the cow.  Why do that when you can spend half for twice the amount?  It is quick recipe though, like most dinners on school days.  Beef stroganoff is a winter classic, even if your winters are a bit warmer than most.  This season has been abnormally warm, upsetting tree huggers like myself who understand the ramifications of what we're doing to our earth and the 300 miles or so of gas around it.  Do I want 4 hour commutes from work in 6" of blinding snow? Of course not.  Will I appreciate the brutal allergy season next spring/summer/fall from the lack of freezing temperatures? Hell no.  Backyard hockey rinks that are puddles of disappointment? Not worth it.  Do you like to ski or board? Not this year.  Now I'm not super crunchy, but most of my beer bottles end up hitting the recycling bin.  I don't bike my fixie to work or drive a Prius.  I like to step on the (gas) pedal with the best of em, and I often come in first.  You don't go through two sets of brake pads in 14 months by being worried about your hydrocarbon emissions.  Hey, not my idea to have a lifetime warranty on a consumable part, thanks carX.  All this while maintaining an estimated 216,122 miles driven accident-free, a stretch just recently ended.  If you don't count the removal of side mirror via garage door a few years ago, that's my mulligan. Damn thing came out of nowhere.  I just want my winter so I can enjoy things like this beef stroganoff, or other chilly night faves like this soup or a different take on the aforementioned tuna casserole.  Then again, is it really only a few weeks to spring training?
Beef Stroganoff
serves 4-6

4 TB butter, unsalted
1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 lb cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced 1/4"
2 TB cognac or brandy
1 C homemade chicken stock, or store-bought low salt stock
3/4 C sour cream
1 TB dijon mustard
1 to 1 1/4 lb beef tenderloin, sliced into strips 1/4" thick and 2" long

The easiest method for this dish is to use two large skillets, in which you melt 1.5 TB of butter in each.  Over medium to medium-high heat, one is for the onion and the other is for the mushrooms.  Season each with S&P and cook until the onion if soft and shrooms are browned, about 5 minutes.  Add a splash of cognac or brandy to the mushrooms, turn up heat to high until mostly evaporated, 10-15 seconds.  Add the shrooms to the onions, then wipe out that skillet with paper towel, don't burn the skin on your phalanges.  To the mushroom skillet, introduce the stock and bring to a boil until reduced to 1/4 C or so, about 5 minutes.  Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sour cream, mustard, and an additional hit of black pepper to taste.  Stir occasionally while simmering until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Keep warm over low heat, do not boil.  

In your clean skillet, melt the remaining 1 TB butter with EVOO.  Your meat should be room temp and seasoned with S&P.  Over high heat, cook the tenderloin strips quickly until just medium, about 1 minute per side.  Do this in batches until all the loin is cooked, add any juices collected from resting meat to the party.  Add the meat to the mushroom sauce and stir until everything is warmed through.  Serve immediately over egg noodles, rice, or whatever you'd like. Garnish with pepper to taste, I prefer this one quite generous with the spice.  A hunk of crusty bread and a large green salad with homemade garlic-rosemary sourdough croutons would be a delicious way to round out this meal. 

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