This past weekend our trip to the Twin Cities was cut short after we decided to skip town early before blizzard hit the area on Sunday. We got home on Saturday night and with no plans at all for Sunday I popped open Ad Hoc at Home to look for ideas for the next night's dinner when I came across a recipe for Beef Stroganoff, which my wife and I have made many times prior in the "classic" Cambell's Cream of Mushroom soup style. I started reading the full recipe and taking notes on things I would need at the store. As I was reading I said a couple of times "this seems too easy" and sure enough....sub-recipe!!
Keller's recipe calls for the braised short rib recipe from the previous two pages. I have never braised anything, but Keller notes that "it's a very rewarding process for the chef." I've learned quickly that when TK says rewarding he means "this is going to take a long time...I hope you have comfortable shoes."
After getting back from an early dawn trip to Whole Foods in Lincoln Park where I've never bought more produce in one trip to the store in my entire life, I started on the recipe. The first part of creating the braise is making a red wine reduction, which when done resembles a glaze. This required a whole lot of chopping of carrots, leeks, shallots, thyme, button mushrooms, and onions. You then let it simmer and shake for about 45-50 min before adding the beef and starting the braise.
After the reduction becomes a glaze, Keller tells you to add even more carrots, leeks, onions, and shallots, and to start on the meat. The recipe calls for short ribs, with the bone cut out. The "butcher" at Whole Foods who clearly didn't feel like deboning short ribs at 8am on a Sunday sold me on buying short rib chuck cut in the shape of short ribs. I was tired as well and agreed and took a shortcut which in the end was probably stupid. He claimed for that cut he would charge $3 more a pound, but when I thought about it later that probably isn't too mad of a deal considering otherwise you're paying for the bone weight that you don't eat. If the Butcher & Larder opened before 10:00am or I had more than a day's notice I would of gone there.
You then dredge the salt and pepper seasoned meat through flour before browing it in a frying pan:
Browning the meat in some very hot canola oil:
After you brown the meat, you wrap it in cheesecloth, add in the newly chopped veggies, and cover with beef broth and let it cook in the oven low and slow for about 2 hours. After it's done, you remove the meat, strain the contents of the pot to separate the braising liquid, and place the meat back in the liquid to cool and soak up the liquid for flavor and tenderness. Before serving the dish, you cut the meat into small bite sized pieces and reheat it by carmalizing it in a pan and placing it in the oven for a short period of time.
TK makes an interesting comment in the beginning of the recipe and states that this beef stroganoff is just as much about the mushrooms as it is the beef, and he's right there are a ton (actually 2 pounds) of Crimini mushrooms in this! In order to make the sauce, you place 1 pound of the mushrooms in a food processor and something that looks like this:
After adding about 3 cups of heavy cream and mixing in the above mixture you get this:
As for the remaining pound of mushrooms, the recipe calls for them to be sauteed and placed on top of the dish. Pre-saute:
Like much of the other recipes in Ad Hoc, this beef stroganoff is really a sum of parts. When plating, you assemble the beef, pappardelle egg noodles (Keller tell you to make from scratch in a sub recipe, but I had no time for that), mushrooms, and parsley for some color.
This is one good Stroganoff and Keller was right, it's all about the mushrooms here. While the beef had a good amount of flavor, the egg noodles covered in the cream and mushrooms were my favorite part. Our friends, Joanie and Ryan, who (unknown to me) hate mushrooms came over for dinner and both of them cleaned their plates and loved it. While very time consuming to make, this was a winner in my book.