Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

I have been very quiet since Friday, likely due to getting caught in one of autumn’s chilly nights without any notice and getting sick. Either I was wearing clothes reminiscent to summer (gym wear and flip flops) or someone who had it within my proximity passed it along to me. Regardless, I came down with some flu-cold combination and blogging was not my top priority. 

Luckily I was able to celebrate Mama Dazz’s birthday and hang out with friends that was long overdue. Saturday, the day I started feeling rather worn down and achy, was also my “experimenting in the kitchen success story” day. For her birthday I made her favorite pizza (with a yummy gluten free crust I made from scratch!) and a strawberry labneh cheesecake. Flamingos, sunflowers, and stargazer lilies were in abundance, and the house is slowly coming out of its clustered funk. 

Despite losing the desire to do much of anything (because sneezing and coughing and being delirious can do that to you), the creativity in my meals seemed to thrive. It was based on comfort, on the need to feel full and warm. I felt feverish and clammy, though my temperature varied from 96.7ºF and 98.4ºF. My digestion was even more temperamental than usual; actually, it was similar to the experience of being glutened. I was ravenous and extremely dehydrated throughout the day, eating to fill the emptiness in my stomach and drinking ease the dryness in my throat. I ate things that I remembered loving as a kid, meals served in a large mug or bowl, piping hot, sure to make any upset or sour stomach grateful for the nutrition.

And it all started with beef stroganoff.

Since becoming gluten free I had an issue with thickeners. It was similar to my issue with adding sugar to something naturally sweet already; why include something to make it a thicker consistency when it was delicious as is? Chili did just fine without that tablespoon or two of cornstarch, but for some reason beef stroganoff needed a slurry or roux to keep the sour cream from curdling when mixed with the broth. After recently making coq au vin, I realized the significance of the thickening process I once despised, and started incorporating it back into recipes that usually call for it.

This dish has its origins from 19th century Russia. Elena Molokhovets’ cookbook A Gift to Young Housewives (1861) was the first to provide the recipe in print, and the name is believed to derive from someone of importance within the Stroganov family. It has many variations around the world and is very popular in the United States, the UK, Scandinavia, Iran, Australia, Portugal, China, Japan, and Brazil. We used to eat it over egg noodles in the BGF days, but I found out it is just as delicious served over sprouted brown and wild rice.

Beef Stroganoff (Pressure Cooker version)

1 tbsp. Olive oil
10 oz Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 Sweet white onion, julienned and thinly chopped
1 Shallot, julienned and thinly chopped
3 Garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp. Chives, coarsely chopped
32 oz Water
1.5 lb Lean stew beef meat, cut into manageable chunks
1/2 tsp. Sea salt
1/4 tsp. Cracked pepper
1 tsp. Herb de Provence
1/2 tsp. Mustard Seed Powder
3 tbsp. Rice flour
9 oz Sour cream

Place the olive oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat and sauté the mushrooms, onion, shallot, garlic, and chives until softened and reduced.
Pour in the water and bring to a boil, then the meat and spices (sans the rice flour and sour cream).
Put the lid on the pressure cooker, and lower the heat to medium-low, cooking for at least half an hour.
Turn off the heat and let the pressure reduce on its own until the lid can be opened.
Take at least a cup of the broth and pour it into a small mixing bowl with the rice flour to make a slurry.
Turn the heat back on to medium-low, add in the slurry, and let the broth thicken for an additional 15 – 20 minutes.
After the broth has thickened, turn off the heat once more and fold in the sour cream until thoroughly combined.
Immediately serve over rice or your choice in pasta, garnished with fresh chives or spring onion.

Serves 4 – 6 people.

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