Saturday, August 25, 2007

Beef Stroganoff

I didn't voluntarily eat beef stroganoff until I was 20 years old. I was really grossed out by creamy sauces throughout my childhood, and truthfully, they still send a shiver up my spine. However, this is one of Wei's favorite dishes, so I figured that I should experiment until I find a recipe that we can both like.

I got this one from Nigella Lawson's How to Eat. I wanted to try it, because she uses creme fraiche in the sauce instead of sour cream, which I hate. It took a bit of work to find the creme fraiche though. They didn't have it at Whole Foods, so I had to go to Star Provisions, a fabulous gourmet store in West Midtown, to pick it up. It was worth it for me, but it probably wouldn't be for everybody. You can definitely sub in sour cream if you want. This made a ton of sauce, which is probably why Nigella suggests serving it over white rice. I used egg noodles instead, at Wei's request.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter
A few drops of olive oil
1 large onion, minced
1/2 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
Whole nutmeg
Salt and pepper
2 pounds beef fillet, trimmed of fat (just the gobs of fat on the outside--not the inner marbling) and silverskin if any, cut into thin strips
Scant 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 8-ounce container of creme fraiche
Dry sherry (Nigella didn't include this, but I think it's key to cut through the creaminess of the sauce)
Cornstarch (optional)
White rice or egg noodles

Put 2 tablespoons of butter and a drop of oil in a large skillet, and warm over medium to medium-high heat. When the butter is melted, throw in the onions and saute gently, stirring frequently, until soft. Add 2 more tablespoons of the butter and add the mushrooms when it's melted. Cook for another 4-5 minutes. Grate some whole nutmeg over the pan (it's hard to measure, but I think I added about 1/2 teaspoon's worth) and season with salt and pepper. Stir well and remove to a plate.

Add the remaining butter to the pan with a couple of drops of oil and turn the heat up to high. Season the beef with salt and pepper while it's still on the cutting board. Stir-fry the fillet strips for a couple of minutes until it's seared on the inside but still pink on the inside. Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan; stir well. Add a splash of dry sherry. Grate over some more nutmeg and stir in the Dijon mustard and creme fraiche. Sprinkle in a pinch of paprika, add more salt to your taste. Thicken with a cornstarch slurry if the sauce isn't thick enough for you--it wasn't for us!

Take off the heat, and serve over white rice or egg noodles. If you're using egg noodles, put a pot of salted water on to boil when you start cooking the onions and they should be ready by the time you're done cooking. If you're using rice, start the pot before you do your prep. Sprinkle a bit more paprika over the individual servings.

I realize now that I should have snapped a shot of Wei's bowl, because I used as little sauce as possible on mine! Don't be fooled by the picture; this recipe produced a lot of sauce, and Wei informed me that it was fantastic. If you like your beef stroganoff swimming, it won't be a problem.

Rating: This is awesome
This was really tasty. It has a lot of simple flavors, but when they come together, yum! Next time, I might sear the beef first, take it out of the pan, and not put it back in until the onions and mushrooms are fully done. I might have overcooked the beef a tiny bit, because I wasn't working fast enough at the end. Hopefully cooking it first would prevent that. Also, I think I'll add a scattering of flat leaf parsley before serving, just for visual interest :-)

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