Sunday, May 4, 2008

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff
Beef stroganoff is traditionally made by sauteing strips or cubes of beef but I have bad luck cooking beef this way. Sometimes my beef stir fries/sautes turns out great but many times it ends up kinda chewy and tough. So instead of a saute, I opt to braise the beef for my stroganoff. Braising takes longer but I love the way it magically transforms a cheap tough cut into something moist and fork tender. And this way I won't screw up cooking a pricey piece of meat. One of my local supermarkets had a 7-bone chuck roast (great braising cut) on sale for only $1.29/lb, quite the bargain compared to a $5/lb steak or tenderloin. I know some people dislike mushrooms but I can't have stroganoff with lots of them. Finally, a white wine sour cream sauce with thyme, dijon mustard, and teensy bit of soy sauce brings it all together.

Not all roasts are created equal. Here's a guide from Cook's Illustrated that rates the flavor of various cuts most widely available at the supermarket:
I like using the top blade roast or chuck 7-bone roast because those cuts are already thin so it's easier to cut into 1 inch cubes.

For a quick version, skip the braise and saute a strips of a tender cut like tenderloin, sirloin steak, or flank steak instead. Or you can even use ground beef.

Beef Stroganoff
3 lbs braising beef cut, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 bay leaves
1/2 C chicken stock + 1/2 C water

Veggies and Sauce
2 Tbsp butter
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 lb crimini or white button mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1/2 C white wine
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 C sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
Vegetable oil
Salt and pepper

Serve with:
Egg noodles or rice

Trim off any excess fat and cut the beef into 1 inch pieces and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1/3 of the beef and sear until browned on all sides (or a 2 - 3 sides if you want to cheat like me since I get impatient). Transfer to a boil and repeat the searing. If the browned bits on the bottom of the Dutch oven are accumulating and turning too brown, add some water and scrape up the browned bits. Pour this flavorful liquid into the bowl with the already seared pieces of beef and then resume the searing.

After all of the beef has seared, return the beef and any juices back into the Dutch oven. Add the chicken stock and water, two tablespoons of soy sauce, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer then lower the heat until the contents are barely simmering. Cook for about 3 hours or until the beef is fork tender, stir occasionally to make sure all the pieces get cooked evenly. Transfer to a bowl and reserve one cup of the braising liquid.

In a skillet heat two tablespoon of butter over medium heat. Add the diced onions and cook until translucent and slightly browned on the edges. Add the sliced mushrooms, a little salt, and pepper. The mushrooms will release some liquid so cook until all of the liquid has reduced and the pan is dry. Add the white wine, reserved cup of braising liquid, and thyme. Turn up the heat to medium high and cook until this liquid is reduced and thickened. Season with a little soy sauce (about 1 - 2 tablespoons), salt, and pepper. Stir in the braised piece of beef and take the pan off heat. Off heat, stir in the dijon mustard and sour cream. Serve over buttered egg noodles or rice.

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