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LJWorld.com weblogs The Flying Fork

Stroganoff for the Jayhawk Soul

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Mr. Meat and Potatoes returned from a month-long gig last night, just in time to hear me cry and gnash my teeth about the Jayhawks, my failed bracket, and the corollary chagrin I was experiencing since I am no longer leading the pack in my bracket pool. I mean, I was the only woman in the group. I was so proud when I was winning during those first few rounds, I started calling myself “Sportie Barbie”. That’s right: SportIE. With an IE.

Now I’m just back to being “Knocked-Up Barbie”, which basically amounts to being on an ongoing quest for red meat.

Mr. M and P doesn’t really understand my love and devotion to the cheeseburger. He’s all, “If you’re grilling, why not just have a steak?” Which is completely ridiculous, because it’s like, APPLES AND ORANGES, man.

In an effort to eat something other than a cheeseburger, last night I made beef stroganoff. Because beef, covered in sour cream and half and half, over egg noodles, is the next best thing to beef, covered in cheese, smashed between two buns.

I had to modify my usual recipe, which includes crimini mushrooms, because my husband doesn’t “eat fungi”. But, if you want to add the mushrooms, I recommend making the (rare) trip to The Merc, because their mushrooms are sublime, and worth the extra coin.

Elise at Simply Recipes recommends shallots in your stroganoff, and I totally agree, they bring a little something extra to the plate. But last night the only onion I could find in the house was a red one, and I liked them plenty in there, actually, although I was skeptical as I put them in the pot.

For a recipe that serves four, here’s how I do it.

To start, slice your onions into super-thin strings, and toss them into some melted butter in your favorite stock pot, over med-hi heat, and cook them until they’re translucent. If you are doing mushrooms, you might give them a rough chop and throw them in at this point as well.

While that is happening, cut up your meat. I had a 1.5 lb sirloin steak, purchased at Target for the over-price of 8.50, but I succumbed to the convenience factor just this once, as I was already there and only needed half and half and meat.

I just diced it up into bite sized cubes, although some folks prefer a longer, thinner, strip of meat for stroganoff. Do whatever turns your pancake.

Once your steak is cubed, throw it in (with a little more butter if you’re like me) and give it a liberal salt and peppering. Start browning, and when it’s almost all brown, all around, throw in a tablespoon of minced garlic, and finish cooking it all. I took mine off before it was done all the way through, because we like our cow pink. I had to stop Todd from eating the raw cubes – that’s how pink he likes it.

Start some water boiling – you need to cook your egg noodles.

Remove the onions and meat from the pot, and set aside. Throw in, that’s right, another three tablespoons of butter, and make a white roux. Basically, just melt the butter, and then start sprinkling in flour until it all clumps together and forms a ball. Here’s where a good whisk really comes in handy.

Add your noodles to your boiling water now! Half a bag should do ya.

Turn down your heat to med-low, and slowly pour on half and half, whisking away to avoid lumps. I used about half of the container, which is one of those half-sized cartons. Once it’s all in, turn up the heat and it should get to a pasty consistency pretty quickly. Then add the other half of the carton, and whisk your little heart out once more. Again, it will thicken and get bubbly, and that’s when you pour in a cup and a half (or however much you like) of beef broth.

Note: I always have beef stock in my freezer from when I cook a roast. I keep the braising liquid, which freezes perfectly. Stock, at room temp, is like gel. When you warm it, it turns to liquid. Also, it is easy to remove the fat from frozen stock, if you are into that sort of thing. The fat just rises to the top and you can scrape it off.

I like stock for this application, because my stock usually has more flavors in it than plain beef broth does, but either will do just fine. If you use stock, you might use a little less than you would broth, but just keep tasting your sauce to determine what’s right.

Once you add your stock or broth, keep a-stirring. I also added a half a tablespoon of Better Than Bouillon mushroom base at this time, and some tarragon. If you have fresh, USE IT. I only had dried and it’s still delish.

Now is also the time to add a half a cup to a cup (depending on what you can handle) of sour cream to your sauce.

Dump the meat/onions/garlic back in (and any buttery meat-juice that has formed around it in its holding bowl) back into the sauce, and turn it up if you need to get it thick again. Bubbles help the thickening process, but be careful not to scorch your dairy. Taste it - it might need more salt and pepper.

Serve over the drained egg noodles, with a dollop of sour cream and some fresh tarragon on top.

This whole process, as involved as it may sound, only takes about twenty minutes. During that time, I threw together some broccoli and a lazy bitch salad from a bag, so I could continue the façade I like to sell myself about eating healthily for the baby, which, by the way, IS A BOY! YAY! No late night talks about the relative merits of OB v. Playtex for me!!!!!!

Relative List of Ingredients, Give or Take:

1.5 lb steak, cubed

1/2 c sliced onion or shallot

1 stick of butter, portioned

1/2 bag of egg noodles (don't buy the off brand, they lose their noodliness)

1 half-sized carton of half and half (or, if you're a real man, heavy cream)

1 cup sour cream

1/2 tablespoon garlic

1 tablespoon tarragon

salt and pepper to taste

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