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30-Minute Get Real Meals: Beef Stroganoff over Buttered Parsley-Cauliflower ‘Noodles’

This recipe is a good example of the problems I found throughout 30-Minute Get Real Meals . To keep things “low-carb,” Ray substitutes cauliflower for the traditional noodles or rice pilaf that are usually served with stroganoff. And while this might sound interesting on paper, in practice it just doesn’t work.

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The recipe calls for 2 pounds of beef to serve 4 people. That’s a whopping 8 ounces of meat per serving. And the amount of cauliflower called for? One small head. The result was that I had enough meat to feed several strong manly men, and a teeny-tiny little bit of cauliflower that my husband and I finished off in one sitting. Bad proportions. In my revised version, I’ve reduced the amount of beef to a more realistic 1 pound. And I’ve added noodles. The sauce proportions remain the same in the revised recipe; it may look like a lot of sauce, but the noodles will soak it right up (that’s the whole point of serving beef stroganoff with noodles or rice — to make sure you can sop up all the sauce!)

The instructions for the stroganoff don't seem to have been tested. The recipe tells the cook to sear off 2 pounds of thinly sliced beef in a single layer in a “large” skillet. Unless you’ve got a skillet the size of a ping-pong table, this isn’t going to work. Even in my revised recipe, the cook needs to sear off the meat in two batches. Ray’s recipe also tells the cook to add the meat back to the sauce before adding the sour cream. If you follow those instructions, you’ll be trying to incorporate the pesky sour cream blobs into the sauce while beef strips are hanging off your whisk. Do the sensible thing and add the sour cream first, making a nice smooth sauce for the beef to simmer in.

Ray’s recipe doesn't allow enough time for the caramelized meat to simmer in the finished sauce; only “2 to 3 minutes.” Seared meat can be somewhat hard around the edges, and a longer soak in the stroganoff sauce is necessary to make the beef tender. I recommend 10 minutes.

The cauliflower “noodles” are a ridiculous idea. Ray would have the cook cut a head (a small head, remember) of cauliflower into slices crosswise and then lengthwise, to approximate a sort of noodle shape. If you’ve ever used cauliflower before, you probably already know what happened. The “noodles” fell apart long before they ever hit the water. A large head of cauliflower might hold its shape better, but only if the cook doesn’t remove the hard central core, which takes longer to cook than the delicate florets, and doesn’t taste as good. This idea is a silly gimmick that doesn’t work. If you really want cauliflower with this dish, just boil the florets for a couple of minutes and then toss them with butter and parsley. Better yet, forget the cauliflower altogether and serve the stroganoff atop a bed of egg noodles, the way Count Von Stroganoff intended.

Beef Stroganoff with Egg Noodles
(revised version)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound beef tenderloin
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, sliced
2 Tbsp flour
2 15-oz. cans beef consommé
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped parsley, divided
6 chopped cornichons or baby gherkins, for garnish (optional)
12-oz. package egg noodles, large elbow macaroni, or other pasta
1 Tbsp butter

Place the beef into the freezer for 10-15 minutes. (This is a recommendation that Ray makes in 30-Minute Get Real Meals, and it's a good one. Putting it in the freezer for a few minutes firms up the meat and makes it easier to slice.)

Bring a large pot of water to boil for the pasta. When water is boiling, salt liberally and add pasta. Cook according to package directions then drain. Toss with 1 Tbsp butter and 1 to 2 Tbsp chopped parsley. Set aside and keep warm.

Thinly slice the beef and trim pieces so that you have 2-inch by 3 or 4-inch strips. Preheat a large skillet with 1 Tbsp of the vegetable oil over high heat. When very hot, add half the beef in an even layer and sear for 2 minutes without stirring. When caramelized on the first side, turn with tongs and continue to cook for about 1 more minute. Remove beef and repeat with remaining vegetable oil and meat. Reserve all the beef on a plate.

Reduce heat to medium low and add 2 Tbsp butter to the pan. When melted, add the sliced onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the flour, stirring to distribute. Cook flour for 30 seconds, then whisk in the beef consommé. Add Dijon mustard, then reduce heat to low. Simmer gently for 10 minutes.

Whisk sour cream into the stroganoff sauce. When completely incorporated, add the meat back to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes. Check seasoning, correcting for salt and pepper if necessary. Serve atop a bed of buttered pasta. Garnish with cornichons and remaining parsley, if desired.

Beef Stroganoff over Buttered Parsley-Cauliflower ‘Noodles’
(from 30-Minute Get Real Meals)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

4 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 pounds beef tenderloin
salt and pepper
5 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, sliced
2 Tbsp flour
2 15-oz. cans beef consommé
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 small head cauliflower
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
3/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 cup sour cream
6 cornichons or baby gherkins, optional

Fill a large skillet with 1 inch of water. Place the skillet over high heat and bring to a boil for the cauliflower “noodles.”

Preheat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil over high heat. You will be searing the meat in this pan, so you want it to be screaming hot.

Thinly slice the meat and cut into 2-inch long very thin strips. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add to the hot oil, spreading the meat out in an even layer. Sear the meat, caramelizing it, for about 2 minutes without touching it, then toss and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

Remove the meat from the pan and reserve on a plate. Reduce heat on the burner to medium low. Cool the pan for a minute, then add 2 Tbsp of the butter to the skillet, melt and add half of the sliced onion. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, then add the flour, stirring to distribute. Cook the flour for 30 seconds. Whisk in the beef consommé and the Dijon mustard and turn the heat down to low, gently simmering for 10 minutes.

While the stroganoff sauce is cooking, prepare the cauliflower “noodles”: With a paring knife, remove the stem of the cauliflower, trying to keep the head intact. With the cut side down on the cutting board, slice the cauliflower into 1/4-inch thick slices. Stack those slices and cute them in half, lengthwise. Add some salt the cauliflower “noodles” to the skillet with the boiling water. Cook for 2 minutes. Drain the cauliflower in a colander. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, the remaining onion, salt, and pepper; cook for 1 minute.

Add the cauliflower and chicken stock to the onion, stir to coat, and cook for 3 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Turn the heat off and add the remaining 3 Tbsp butter and 1/2 cup of the chopped parsley. Toss to coat and reserve while you finish off the stroganoff. Add the meat back to the pan with the stroganoff sauce. Add the sour cream, stirring to combine. Turn the heat back up to medium high and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, to finish cooking the meat. Taste the dish, checking for seasoning, and arrange the beef stroganoff on a bed of the cauliflower “noodles.” Garnish with the remaining 1/4 cup chopped parsley and the chopped cornichons.



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