Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Change can be good: Beef Stroganoff

December 2, 2012
  • Beef Stroganoff over noodles
  • Garden Salad
  • 2010 Doña Sol Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Triple Chocolate Cookies, Breyers Natural Vanilla Ice Cream

There are many foods that I enjoy eating now that I would't even consider eating when I was younger.  I went through four years of college and four years of graduate school without eating pizza. When my mom served spaghetti I would have something else, a hamburger perhaps. When she made grilled cheese sandwiches I would have a grilled PB&J (which I still enjoy). BLT, no, I would have bacon, lettuce, and peanut butter. And I avoided sour cream for a most of my life.

Over time, though, my tastes have changed. While sour cream is not something I would go out of my way to eat, I don't avoid it or dishes that use it, either. Which is a good thing because I would not have considered making beef stroganoff for dinner this Sunday. According to wikipedia, beef stroganoff is "a Russian dish of sauteéd beef served in a sauce of sour cream ...". The exact origins of the name are unknown but it is likely taken from a member of the Stroganov family. In Russian, beef stroganoff is Бефстроганов. You can learn all sorts of stuff, some of it even useful, on the Internet.

Beef stroganoff is a good, cool weather dish, rich and satisfying with the sour cream sauce and egg noodles. Made from the Cook's Illustrated recipe it is a one-skillet dish so you don't end up with a kitchen full of dirty pots and pans to wash. The recipe calls for sirloin steak tips which I believe is a regional cut of meat from New England, sometimes called flap meat in other parts of the country. I went to Whole Foods and asked for sirloin steak tips. The butcher left the counter and went into the back to prepare my order and returned with a package labelled "top sirloin". After getting home and opening the package I am sure this is not the cut of beef that the Test Kitchen cooks had in mind when they published this recipe. Perhaps this is why the meat in our finished stroganoff was a little tough, though still edible and good tasting. This was not the only error in this recipe as I forgot to quarter the mushrooms before microwaving them. Thus they probably had more moisture than envisioned by the author. I thought the finished dish may have had too many mushrooms, perhaps quartering them before microwaving would have reduced their volume in the finished product.

To accompany the stroganoff I made a salad using mostly ingredients from our monthly box of local organic produce from Farm Fresh to You. The salad included red leaf lettuce, spinach, carrots, cucumber, celery, and cherry tomatoes. The tomatoes were the last of the season from our own tiny garden.

For dessert I made triple chocolate cookies. Searching on the web turns up a lot of different recipes for this cookie. The way I made them they were double chocolate cookies as I added whole Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips to the finished dough rather than using milk chocolate chips. The same chips were also used, melted, in the dough. I used a stand mixer and so I added the flour to the other ingredients rather than doing it the other way around as described in the recipe. The cookies are rich with a deep chocolate flavor. They're soft and slightly chewy and lack any crispness. I thought my dough was not quite as thick as the recipe describes but the cookies are still good. I don't think they're as good as chocolate chubbies but these perhaps have a deeper chocolate flavor.

This was a real satisfying winter dinner. The warm, rich stroganoff and noodles were just the thing for a winter dinner. These were was nicely complemented by the fresh garden salad and hearty wine. I've learned to like pizza, spaghetti, BLTs, and even sour cream. I could probably learn to like grilled cheese sandwiches, too, but so far I have stuck with my grilled PB&J.

Beef Stroganoff from Cook's Illustrated 
Ultimate Triple Chocolate Cookie from Kitchen Trials

1 comment:

  1. Doug, I've made this Beef Stroganoff a couple times using "flap meat" (which was easier to find under that name than I thought it would be). We really enjoyed it (and I did quarter the mushrooms before microwaving, which reduced them significantly: amazing technique, that).