Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Beef Stroganoff

This saute of beef was delicious. David was amazed that it was so tasty, and declared me a closet cook. The mushrooms were divine. The book notes that you can serve the beef in a casserole, or on a platter surrounded with steamed rice, risotto, or potato balls sauteed in butter. Buttered green peas or beans could accompany it. We chose to serve it over fat egg noodles, and it was perfect.

From Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Julia Child

1/2 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
6 Tb butter and 2 Tb good cooking oil, more if needed
3 Tb minced shallots or green onions
salt and pepper
2.5 lbs filet of beef; the tenderloin butt and the tail of the filet are usually used
3/4 cup good brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1 cup whipping cream
2 tsp cornstarch blended with 1 tablespoon of the cream
parsley sprigs

Saute the mushrooms:
Successfully sauteed mushrooms are lightly browned and exude none of their juice while they are being cooked; to achieve this the mushrooms must be dry, the butter very hot, and the mushrooms must not be crowded in the pan. If you saute too may at once they steam rather than fry; their juices escape and they do not brown. So if you are preparing a large amount, or if your heat source is feeble, saute the mushrooms in several batches.
Place the skillet over high heat with 2 Tb butter and 1 Tb oil. As soon as you see that the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their saute the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. Stir in the shallots or onions, and cook for a minute longer. Season the mushrooms, and scrape them into a side dish.

Remove all surrounding fat and filament, and cut the filet into 2-ounce pieces, about 2 inches across and 1/2 inch thick. Dry thoroughly on paper towels.

Place 2 Tb butter and 1 Tb oil in the skillet and set over moderately high heat. When the butter foam begins to subside, saute the beef, a few pieces at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side to brown the exterior but keep the interior rosy red. Set the beef on a side dish, and discard sauteing fat. (I cut the slices thinner and browned them all the way through.)

Pour the stock or bouillon into the skillet and boil it down rapidly, scraping up coagulated cooking juices, until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Beat in the cream, then the cornstarch mixture. Simmer a minute. Add the sauteed mushrooms and simmer a minute more. the sauce should have a slight liaison (be lightly thickened). Taste carefully for seasoning. (I used extra stock and cream to make more so that we could put is over noodles.)

Season the beef lightly with salt and pepper and return it to the skillet along with any juices which may have escaped. Baste the beef with the sauce and mushrooms; or transfer everything to a serving casserole.

When you are ready to serve, cover the skillet or casserole and heat to below the simmer for 3 to 4 minutes, being very careful not to overdo it or the pieces of the filet will be well done rather than rare. Off heat and just before serving, tilt casserole, add 2 Tb softened butter to sauce a bit at a time while basting the meat until the butter has absorbed. Decorate with parsley, and serve at once.

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