Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is one of those things that is almost always referred to as a "classic" dish, because "classic" is what people call things that were eaten a lot in the Seventies. I get the feeling menu turnover was a lot slower in the Seventies than it is now (although if I never see another chicken liver parfait with toast on a menu it will be 8 million years too soon) and so I think most of England lived on beef stroganoff from 1970 to 1979.

And like most "classic" dishes, beef strog is entirely brown and made mostly from cream.

My husband made this for me last night. He is very "classic" - i.e. he was made in the Seventies. Actually, he was made in 1969, but that's beside the point. He does this very well and isn't stingy with the cream.

I've got no idea how close this is to a "classic" classic beef stroganoff, but I find that there is always some terrifying and mad ingredient in "classic" classic recipes for slightly bygone things, like a pint of mustard, or tripe or sambuca or 18 anchovies.

Anyway, this is a lovely thing. I'm always very into meat with a slightly sour accompaniment, like pot roast chicken and gherkins for example. The sour cream in this fulfills that purpose, but you do need to know that there is a sour element to this because that might not be your bag at all.

We ate this with red camargue rice.

Beef Stroganoff by Giles
For 2

2 steaks - rump, fillet, whatever, just make sure it's suitable for frying
2 big handfuls of mushrooms
1 large while onion, or a lot of shallots (nice) or 2 medium onions, chopped finely
1 long sloop of tomato ketchup
1 large glass shitty white wine, or vermouth, and about half a glass of brandy
salt and pepper
1 small tub sour cream - that's about 100 - 150 ml.
1 dried chilli (if you fancy it, it's not essential)

1 Sautee the onions and mushrooms gently over a low flame in some groundnut oil. If you wanted this extra-rich, you could put in a knob of butter, too. But don't use butter only because it will burn. I like Nigella's thing of sprinkling some salt over the onions to help them sautee rather than burn. It works - just a generous pinch sprinkled over will do the trick.

2 Slice up your steak into strips and then get another frying pan really nice and hot and fry that off. It's important to do this in a separate pan because the onions and mushrooms will leak a lot of water and if you try to cook the steak in it, it will just sort of steam and be gross. Frying it in a separate pan fast and hard will give the surface of the steak a chance to char, which will make it damn tasty.

The cooked-ness is up to you. My husband has totally gone off very rare meat and now thinks that the trick to keeping steak tender is to cook it fast and hot until done sort of medium and then rest it.

3 Turn back to your onions and mushrooms. Turn up the heat and pour in the brandy. My husband got this to set light, which I wasn't expecting and scared the shit out of me, I don't mind telling you. I don't think you have to set light to it if that kind of thing freaks you out (and what normal person isn't freaked out by flames leaping to one's kitchen ceiling?) just cook off the alcohol. Then throw in your glass of shitty white wine and cook that down too.

4 Scrape the onions and mushrooms in with the steak and set that on a medium heat. Add the ketchup - just a long squirt - and mix that in - then add in the sour cream and stir in. If you don't have any sour cream, you can use normal cream with some lemon juice in it. My husband added the juice of a whole lemon and said that was too much, so you could try with the juice of half a lemon instead.

Eat, feeling nostalgic.

And there you were thinking that I was going to be writing all about the baby.
Ha ha. Joke's on you.

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