Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cure for the winter doldrums?

It's been a cold rainy week here in southern AL. I've been running low on cooking inspiration this week. The winter doldrums have set in for me, I think. Hubs has been gone for three months now and cooking for one has become a bit of a challenge. I'm much more creative when I've got to answer Hub's favorite question. So last night I decided to shake the winter doldrums with a nice dinner for one. I had a beef tenderloin steak that I wanted to use but wasn't really in the mood for a large hunk of meat. Crazy, I know some of you are thinking, but I wanted something more along the comfort foods line. I came across an old recipe I had from Fine Cooking for an updated Beef Stroganoff. It uses beef tenderloin and porcini mushrooms. Not exactly your mother's beef stroganoff! My mom's stroganoff was made with ground beef, with five kid's to feed making tenderloin into stroganoff was probably not an option. But for me on this cold wet dreary winter night, I thought, "why not!" It's a bit of a splurge recipe, but the porcini mushrooms give the sauce a nice earthy flavor and the tenderloin, WOW, so good. It definitely elevates this dish to a new level. You could substitute the tenderloin for chicken breast to make it a more practical family meal. I halved this recipe and used sour cream in place of the creme fraiche. I also made some fluffy mashed potatoes and wilted spinach. It was the perfect meal for one (with plenty of leftovers for tomorrow!).

Updated Beef Stroganoff
Serves four.

1-1/2 cups beef broth (low-salt, if canned) or veal stock
1/2 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (about 1/2 cup)
3 Tbs. vegetable oil (not olive oil)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
8 to 10 oz. fresh cremini mushrooms, stems trimmed, caps wiped clean and thickly sliced
1 lb. beef tenderloin, cut into strips about 2 inches long and 1/2 inch wide
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
5 Tbs. crème fraîche

In a small saucepan, combine the broth and dried porcini. Bring to a boil, remove from the heat, cover, and let steep for 30 min. With a slotted spoon, lift the porcini out of the broth; chop coarsely and set aside. Strain the broth through a cheesecloth-lined sieve and set aside
Heat 1 Tbs. each of the oil and butter in a large sauté pan or skillet (a 12-inch skillet is perfect) over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the cremini mushrooms and sauté, stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms are softened and well browned, 5 to 6 min. Take the pan off the heat and transfer the cremini to a bowl.

Season the beef strips generously with salt and pepper and dredge them in the flour. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 Tbs. of oil. When the oil is very hot, swirl to coat the pan and then add the beef, spreading it in a single layer and stirring with the wooden spoon so that it browns quickly on all sides, 1 to 2 min. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan; work in batches if necessary. Sauté the beef just long enough so that it browns slightly on all sides; don't overcook it. Transfer the beef to the bowl with the cremini.
Still over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 3 Tbs. butter in the pan and add the onion. Sauté, scraping up the browned bits in the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon, until the onion just begins to brown, 4 to 5 min. Pour in the reserved porcini soaking broth. Stir in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and then add the porcini, cremini, and beef, along with any accumulated juices. Bring to a simmer while stirring. Cook just long enough so that the sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 min. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crème fraîche, cooking just until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasonings.


Cynthia said...

Cooking for one is so not fun. I throughly enjoy the meal the first and second day but by the third day, I like it less and less. Hope you are doing fine.

Gigi said...

I agree every now and then treat yourself to a nice dinner. Lovely recipe!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

That looks wonderful!
I can't imagine what I would eat if it was just ME. Beets and spinach souffle every night. :^D
I'm glad to see you've been adopted... I am an adopteee too!

Major Allen Espy said...

My wife and I ate some Beef Stroganoff at the Stroganoff Palace in beautiful St. Petersburg, Russia in early August of 2007. It happened to be a rainy day too! What's funny is that the beef was a tad tough...I thought. However, the mashed potatoes were out of this world.