Saturday, October 13, 2012

Season your stroganoff

Mum and Dad are up this weekend for the swapmeet - a good opportunity to make beef stroganoff (p144) for dinner.

For once I was organised enough to get all my ingredients ready in advance, slicing up my rump steak, onion, and mushrooms (recently gleaned from the mushroom bucket in my garage) sliced up before I started cooking.

You start by browning the meat in butter and oil - the amount of butter and oil in the pan seemed to be way more than necessary, and actually seemed to make it more difficult to brown the meat. Mum reckoned it was fairly typical for an older recipe, though. Apparently my Oma used to say that you have to wait until the butter is past frothy and nicely brown before you start cooking red meat in it. So there's a bit of old-school cooking wisdom for you.

Once my meat was roughly browned, I removed it from the pan and put in the mushrooms and onion. While these were cooking, I got a pot of rice on. When the onions were cooked through, I returned the meat to the pan, then added a small amount of white wine and some sour cream.

I thought it was weird to put the wine in at this stage: generally I'd expect wine to be used early in the cooking process as a tenderising method, meaning the alcohol gets cooked out. In this case the wine was added at the end, when there was already a fair bit of liquid from the mushrooms and meat juices. I assume in this case it's done for flavour.

The stroganoff was pretty much ready at this stage, but the rice was nowhere near cooked, and I still had to arrange some sort of vege to add to the plate. As a result, the stroganoff sat and simmered for another ten minutes or so, while I cooked peas and negotiated the problems of cooking rice on an element with a dodgy thermostat.

Eventually the meal was ready, and we sat down to eat. I have to say the greyish appearance of the stroganoff was not terribly appealing, but it tasted better than it looked. Unfortunately, the meat was a bit tough from overcooking, and I hadn't seasoned it enough. We found ourselves frequently reaching towards the salt and pepper. In fact, we were halfway through the meal before I suddenly realised I hadn't added lemon juice, which would have been a great improvement.

On the whole, this recipe has every potential to be quite tasty, as long as you remember to put in all ingredients, season it properly, and don't overcook it. I'd recommend putting your rice on before you start cooking the stroganoff, because it really doesn't take too long to cook.

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