Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Upscale Russian Comfort Food

I have never been to Russia, it is on my list of places I must visit, but for the moment I have Brighton Beach in NY. I have learned that there are as many different dishes that call themselves Stroganoff as there are Russian Grandmothers. When asking about this dish two women at the market got into an argument about whether shallots or onions are 'correct' for the sauce. This conversation was quelled by a much older woman who reminded them that they should be grateful to have both, there was a time in Moscow when the woman made their Stroganoff with cabbage and dried bread because no meat was available.

It is a good reminder that we are fortunate enough to be able to make those choices.

The following is my interpretation of the dish, it is upscale enough to serve at a dinner party and your guests when served will be grateful not to be given the hamburger mash they remember from childhood. This serves 6 comfortably.

1/4 pound butter, a bit at a time
18 ounces of filet cut into 3 thick steaks
1/3 cup chopped shallots
3 large onions sliced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
A nice handful of chopped fresh tarragon
1 cup of sour cream at room temperature
A tiny bit of oil (to keep butter from burning)
1/2 cup of strong beef broth
1/4 cup good red wine
1/2 pound noodles with a little more butter

Salt and pepper the outside of your filet and put 1/4 of the butter in a large pan and sear the steaks a few minutes on each side leaving nicely rare. Set aside.

Throw in a little more butter and take your sliced onions and saute until they are soft and turning caramel in color, set aside.

Throw in a little more butter (I never said this was low fat) and your shallots, when they are soft add the mushrooms and the rest of the butter and go until the mushrooms are soft. Turn the heat down, way down, you don't want to curdle the sour cream.

You should add your noodles to the boiling water at this point because they need to cook.

Slowly add the sour cream stirring well to incorporate into the butter. Then slowly add the stock and wine. Toss in the tarragon and nutmeg and heat on a LOW flame. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. When the sauce is hot and the noodles are almost done slice the rare steak against the grain in thin slices.

Drain the noodles, toss with butter, top with sour cream sauce and arrange sliced meat atop the bed of noodles. The carmelized onions on the meat; then drizzle a little more sauce atop the meat and if you have a few tarragon leaves left they make a nice garnish.

Serve with a serious red wine.

This is a sumptuous comforting feast that will make you want to curl up and read Tolstoy.

No comments: