Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Eats: Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff

Hello! We don't eat a lot of red meat at our house, but when I see a "reduced for quick sale" sticker on a package of beef, I'll buy it. And it's fine with me if the cut of beef is a less tender type; the slow cooker is perfect for tougher meats. 

It was cold and blustery today, so a hot, hearty dinner seemed in order. I made the following:

Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff(adapted from the 1975 edition of Crockery Cookery, Mable Hoffman, author)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds round steak
salt and pepper to taste
1 onion, sliced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups beef bouillon
1 tablespoon catsup
2 tablespoon dry white wine or sherry
1/4 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sour cream

Cut meat into 1/4" strips. Coat with salt and pepper and drop into slow cooker along with onion. Mix together garlic powder, Worcestershire sauce, beef bouillon and catsup. Pour over meat. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until tender. Turn control to high. Add wine and mushrooms. Dissolve flour in small amount of water. Add to meat mixture, stirring until blended. Cook on high for 15 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Stir in sour cream; turn off heat. Serve with rice or noodles. Makes 5-6 servings. 

Notes: the recipe is actually labeled "Budget Beef Stroganoff" in Hoffman's book, but beef isn't exactly budget-friendly in today's world (though the "reduced for quick sale" pricing makes it more so). 

Hoffman's recipe calls for one teaspoon of salt in the first step and garlic salt instead of garlic powder when mixing the sauce ingredients. I choose to use less salt, which is why I subbed in garlic powder and just sprinkle a bit of salt on the meat in the first step.

I don't like mushrooms, so I've never used them in this recipe. 

I find this makes plenty of sauce, so rather than mixing the flour in a small amount of water, as specified, I use a turkey baster to take out some of the liquid from the slow cooker and mix the flour with that. 

This smells great as it cooks, and tastes great too. It may not look like much:

I sprinkled a dash of red pepper flakes on top, but as you can see, there's not a lot of color to this dish. Doesn't matter; we gobble it up anyway! 

By the way, that's homemade whole wheat spaetzle underneath the stroganoff. I wouldn't have ever attempted to make spaetzle (a sort of cross between dumplings and noodles, in case you didn't know) if I hadn't been given this:

My mother-in-law had purchased that Austrian spaetzle maker, and it was found, still in its original packaging, among her things after her death. My sister-in-law, her daughter, didn't want it and asked me if I did. I'd never even considered making spaetzle but had enjoyed them in German and Czech restaurants, so was willing to give it a try. 

Glad I did - although a rather soft, messy dough, spaetzle is easy to make and cooks up quickly to boot. It goes perfectly with my beef stroganoff. 

The same sister-in-law is connected to tonight's dinner in another way. Several years ago, she and her two daughters lived with my widowed father-in-law. While visiting them one weekend I noticed a rather sad chunk of cooked beef in their refrigerator and asked about it. She looked crestfallen and said she didn't know what had happened, but her beef roast had come out too dry the night before.

I sure didn't know what had happened either, but it seemed like too much meat to go to waste. I told her to get out her slow cooker and I'd use that roast to make my beef stroganoff recipe in it. Fortunately I had committed the ingredients list to memory, and she had everything on hand already as well. 

I really wasn't sure how the dish would turn out, since after all I was starting with cooked beef instead of raw. But it was fine - and, of course, far more tender than it would have been the night before. Score one for the slow cooker!

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