Cutting Edge — Beef Stroganoff

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It was on a Saturday not long ago. About 12 noon or so. I was in company with me and myself.

I have come to cherish these hours on Saturday’s. Lunch is only served Monday through Friday, and cooking classes are held on the second and third Saturday of each month.

So the remaining days on the calendar are the time where I get to do my “magic.” The only disturbance is phone calls for reservations for the upcoming dinner hour or days to come.

And if I’m real lucky, then Pandora decided to massage me with some good old jazz tunes.

Anyway, the prep list that Oscar had written the night before, after a busy Friday, was all about cutting. I mean lot’s of cutting. Spending the next hours using all knife skills that had been implemented in me from the first day ever worked in a kitchen, although “back then” time was spent on peeling garlic cloves, carrots, potatoes, ingredients always prepped by the new apprentices. And I was one of them. Teachings of what knife to use was taught pretty much through “just do it.” In other words, don’t use a 10 inch chef knife to peel garlic, use a paring knife. A little common sense can get you far in life.

I must say though that my favorite is a good sharp 8 inch chef’s knife. And then of course with a little delegation, garlic will be peeled, but not by me…

But my thoughts brought me back 30 something years ago. And I was thinking about how important tools are for pretty much any trade. Mention a profession and a qualified professional will tell you their needs to perform their skill.

In my world “sharp tools” are important. Hey… sounds like a surgeon… but important rules never the less, in order to achieve the ultimate results in cutting meats, fish, vegetables, etc.

Of course, back then today’s distractions such as smart phones didn’t exist, so being good at something was important.

And for some odd reason good and bad, succeeding or failing was measured in beer… That’s right, alcoholic beverages. Beer was the currency paid or received when important tasks needed to be completed.

I once witnessed a fellow apprentice pay 17 beer bottles to an older apprentice, because the skin of a turkey was penetrated 17 times, while deboning the bird for stuffing, for next evenings dinner party. I must admit that I had to pay a few beers myself, until the obvious occurred. This is bad business, watch where your knife is going. I like to say to new arrivals in my kitchen… “Who is in charge, you or the food?”

The Swordfish, as soon as it would arrive needed to be portioned, along with the fresh salmon from the Faroe Islands that we have come to be known for. But also New York strip loins, whole chickens, Beef Tenderloin were on the “to do” list.

And it was when I arrived to the Beef Tenderloin, I was preparing to be roasted whole (Chateau Briand) that I thought about Boeuf Saute Stroganoff.

A dish that many know of, but might not have tasted done properly. It is a dish that was very respected in my apprentice years, not just a beef stew, but sautéed beef tenderloin.

History takes us to Russia in 1861 where a classic cook book mentions the dish, the recipe calls for mustard to be used in the cooking process as a taste factor. Onions and mushrooms are not a part of the dish as we know it today, and as I wrote in my version of Boeuf Sauté Stroganoff.

Those two ingredients are introduced around 1912.

But Count Stroganoff (a famous Russian general) is the name behind the dish. He invented the dish for a competition. And since then, the dish has become very popular world wide.

Boeuf Saute Stroganoff

2 lbs of beef tenderloin tips, cut into strips (1 inch x 1/8 inch)
2 cups of fresh tomato meat, relieved from skin and seeds
6 cups of sliced Cremini mushrooms
3 cups of sliced shallots
6 cups intense veal stock
1 cup Crème Fraiche
A generous splash of cognac
1/2 bunch parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for sautéing

1 large frying pan is needed.

This is a very fast dish to finish once all the ingredients have been gathered. All components are cooked individually first and then combined in the end.

It is very important NOT to overcook the tenderloin. A happy MR would be optimal as the dish will continue to “cook” while being served. Turn on your exhaust fan in your kitchen.

Heat the pan on the stove until very hot, divide the beef tenderloin tips into 3 batches, season each one with salt and pepper right before cooking. Not all together, one at a time.

Add olive oil to the hot pan and then with a slotted spoon arrange the meat on top of the pan. Brown the meat “fast and furious” about 10 seconds.

Remove the meat with the slotted spoon back into the “seasoning dish.” Repeat this process with the last two batches of meat.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan, if needed. Add the shallots and sauté until golden brown over medium to high heat, with a slotted spoon.

Remove onions from pan back into dish where first held.

Add a splash of olive oil to the pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until golden brown as well.

Deglaze the pan with the cognac. Remove mushrooms back into dish where first held.

Next add the veal stock to the pan, reduce the 6 cups of stock into 3 cups (1/2) Add the mushrooms, shallots and the tomato meat back into the pan. Bring dish to a boil…. Season with salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Add the meat along with the Crème Fraiche (DO NOT) boil the dish after meat and Crème Fraiche is added.

Ladle the Boeuf Saute Stroganoff into a serving dish, sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley and serve immediately.

Auguste Escoffier suggested to sprinkle the dish with bread croutons as well, a good idea in my opinion, it will absorb some of the sauce, and become “candy like” croutons.

Traditionally, mostly eaten with buttered pasta noodles, mashed potatoes or fried potato strips.

I suggest a full bodied glass of Pinot Noir to accompany your meal.

Enjoy.

Jan Jorgensen

TWOCHEFS
For information visit www.twochefsrestaurant.com


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