Maundy Thursday Stoganoff...
Stroganoff Supreme. Or is it?
Lamenting my lack of having any regular holiday traditions, unlike my beloved New Orleanians having gumbo z’herbes & fried chicken at Dooky Chase on Maundy Thursday… I began placating my feelings of angst with practicing by means of Widor’s Toccata, though on the piano to get out some frustrations in preparation for Easter Sunday. After relieving le’frustrations of not being a genuine New Orleanian, I proceeded to dress for our evening service.
I very much would like to have a holiday/s tradition with friends or family, that would include different and special dinners and parties, especially those that celebrate with less than routine culinary traditions. Alas, my family’s taste for the unfamiliar is for the most part, non-existent. This is not a smear, nor a complaint, merely a fact. My friends though, would are already great victims of prey for such traditions, though, on that plain, I really haven’t felt like socializing as of late. Perhaps next season...or just later on.
Tonight's dish would definitely be an easy dish to have for an unoffensive family supper, or a simple addition to an evening buffet. Keep it casual, this dish is ultra homely, dowdy, and simple!
More often than not, my ideas of what I would like to have for supper are unrealistic. I appear to love reading the majestic cookbooks that line my shelves, and dream of the delicious goodies, and then instead of eating what I want, I choose to have a pack of toast-chee crackers, and some delicious (deluxe mix) mixed nuts from the Sam’s club. I have to do better. I’m turning a new leaf, or turning over a new leaf, or looking over a four-leafed clover, or whatever, and this leaf tells me to prepare often from my cookbooks, and go to the market often- and see the goodies that are new and interesting, and employee such. Wishful thinking.
Enough belly-aching, for now. After practicing, day-dreaming, and preparing for work, I began to think about what I would like to have for supper. I have been reading Thomas McNamee’s biography of the marvelous and bitchy Craig Claiborne. He may or may not be bitchy- I just wanted to use that in a phrase today. Certainly towards the end of his life he was bitchy.
With my reading and research of Claiborne, I have been sort of dabbling in looking at some of those good mid-century recipes. Beef Stroganoff immediately comes to mind- though, I didn’t want to cut beef into the correct cube shapes, and I wanted something closer to very comforting comfort food. Withstanding the feelings of the cow that was butchered, my feelings were satisfied with praise and delicious thanksgiving for this short journey de la culinaire. Henry, my sweet dog, and I hop in the car and drive to the grocery store. While some of the recipes do not call for mushrooms in beef stroganoff, I like them in my recipe. The grocer had some lovely sliced portabella mushrooms, so I bought those to add.
When I was in college, I studied Russian (language) for two semesters…and I passed. Still, I can read, and make sense of the language, though, not so much speaking or understanding it aurally. Curiously, the Cyrillic alphabet allows us to almost understand the Greek letters…anyway- more about that in another life. Though, the tit-bits of praise, come to mind, in my now research of supper, the Stroganov…which be-eth, well, Russian.
Claiborne’s first recipe of the Stroganoff seems to appear around 1963 in the New York Times. Right now, I am again on a major Gore Vidal kick, and while he and the NYT really had an unsavory relationship, I do think I can overlook that to enjoy Craig Claiborne’s patron temporarily. Of course, in the research of this I also re-visited James Beard’s recipe for beef stroganoff. As with my allegiance to Gore Vidal, my allegiance this week, or during my tenure of interest and research on Claiborne, I will decline to be a major fan of James Beard. According to McNamee, Claiborne seemed to believe that Beard was a product of the greased palm of processed foods and what not- and whether or not this be true (I believe it to be true)- Beard’s recipe calls for A1 Sauce- or Worcestershire. Claiborne’s recipe doesn’t call for a brand of any ingredient.
I researched both recipes, and rejected both in favor of making my own. My idea of what "Stroganoff" must be/mean in terms of a routine/set idea of a dish, is perhaps this is a sauteed meat, served in a sort of bechamel sauce sort of dish.
Here is my recipe:
Christopher-Joel’s Beef Stroganov Supreme Delight
Do you want the most basic and simple treat? This is a very swift and obscenely easy recipe, great for a late evening out, or for a stress-free post-rehearsal supper. I did not want a bechamel or roux sauce with any sort of obvious texture outside the silky sauce, so I have forgone the onions and garlic in favor of the powdered version. If you don’t have mushroom powder, then you can use chicken powder, or flavoring agent of your choice, though, be aware that the salt levels drastically vary between brands, and flavor.
I like how the mushrooms draw in that good fat from the fried meat, so how thick you want your mushrooms to be is up to you- this round, I made the mushrooms quite chunky. In retrospect, I suspect that you could even use mushrooms as a complete substitute for the beef. Simply get tons of mushrooms, and cook down in vegetable ghee, or Crisco or something- and season as you would beef. Definitely Umami Central with that good mushroom powders. I love Mushroom Powders! I love MSG!!!!! OMG!!! Delicious!
*Tip: When you make your roux for your bechamel like sauce, pre-heat the water (I keep a kettle near boiling on the stove) and pre-heat your half & half, so that when you add to the roux, that the roux doesn’t cease up, or stop cooking. No reason to add cold liquid- it just doesn’t help anyone. I also prefer my Stroganoff “sauce” to be more liquid than rich gravy…you, as I have done, may also, do as you please, and try to achieve any texture that you like.
1 pound of Ground Beef (I suppose you can use any sort of ground meat that you like, or shrimps even)
6 ounces sliced Portabella Mushrooms
½ Stick of Butter
1 tsp Paprika
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Onion Powder
2 tablespoons of Mushroom Powder (1 tbsp reserved)
1 pint Half & Half
Sour Cream or Crème Fraiche
¼ cup of flour
1 and ½ cups of hot water
Fresh grated nutmeg (optional)
½ teaspoon dry mustard (I used Colman’s today)
Should you fry potatoes, I like to do them this way:
Fried PATAYTUHZ Potatoes
Adapted from the way my Godfather James Fowler makes them
Potatoes: Peeled, and cut into cubes, not small though.
Red Pepper Flakes
Cut the potatoes, and rinse under cold water, in a colander, of course
Sprinkle some flour or corn starch onto the potatoes and sort of coat- not batter mind you, just to perhaps add a little sticky-ness.
Sprinkle a small amount of cornmeal if you like also onto the potatoes and coat extremely lightly.
In a very large pan, heat a good deal of oil- heat pan to medium high, and pour in the potatoes, and let them fry to your liking, and serve. Also very good with ketchup.
You want the potatoes to not actually seem like they have anything added like flour or meal to them- you want them to just be crispy and delicious. And greasy is my favorite.
Craig Claiborne’s “Beef Stroganoff”
James Beard’s “Beef Stroganoff”
Meanderings on music, cookery, my hobbies, life, et-cetera