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Saturday, July 6, 2013

Vegetarian "Beef" Stroganoff

"Beef" Stroganoff with grilled
zucchini and slice of homemade bread
Even when I make beef stroganoff, I don't really make beef stroganoff.  

Confusing?

Let me explain.  Though I certainly can make, and have made, beef stroganoff, I prefer to use pork.  However, when I say I'm making "pork stroganoff" I get very strange looks, so I simply call it beef stroganoff.

The same concept applies when I make a vegetarian version.  

So I'm going to tell you how I make beef stroganoff with no meat (or meat products) at all.

I don't believe that vegetarian food has to be bland and taste like cardboard.  I know, if you're a vegetarian you already know this, but I think it's a fairly common conception for those of us (like me) who are confirmed meat-eaters.  

Browning the "beef"
My wife was a vegan when we met.  She eventually changed to vegetarian, then went back to eating meat and has now come almost full-circle and is a vegetarian again.  My goal when cooking for her is to make things that I would like and be happy to eat as a meat-eater.  This is one of the first things I came up with when I started cooking for her a number of years ago and I've made it for a number of other vegetarian friends (you know who you are!).  So far they all seem to love it.  I've even made a vegan version simply by substituting vegan sour cream for the "real" kind.

Vegetarian “Beef” Stroganoff

 2 packages fake beef strips (we get ours at Trader Joe's)
1 cup flour
Olive oil for browning
1 package fresh sliced mushrooms (I generally use "baby bellas”, but any kind you like would work just fine - and if you are allergic or simply don't like them, leave them out)
1 small onion, diced (optional)
2 cloves garlic, diced
After adding mushrooms, onions, wine,
vegetable broth and seasonings
1 bottle red wine (use whatever kind you like - I've used a shiraz, burgundy, merlot, cabernet.  A good general rule of thumb is that you don't want to use the best stuff but you want it to be something that you would actually drink.  We love "Two Buck Chuck" from Trader Joe's - it's reasonably priced with good flavor)
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock
seasoning to taste (I use ground rosemary, oregano, garlic powder and basil - choose seasonings you like.  There's no right or wrong so feel free to experiment)
3-4 bay leaves
8 oz sour cream


1.     Put the flour in a bowl and season it       (I use seasoning salt, black pepper and garlic powder, but you could use any seasonings you like).  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2.     Dredge the beef strips through the flour.

3.     Using a heavy bottomed pan (I like to use a dutch oven), lightly brown the beef strips in the olive oil.

4.     After all of the beef strips have been browned and removed from the pan, saute the mushrooms (and onions if you use them) in the same oil you used for the beef strips.  You will probably have to add a bit more oil – the mushrooms seem to “swallow” it.  Cook them until they soften and the juices start to come out of the mushrooms.
Directly out of the oven

5.     Pour the wine into the pan – it will make lots of noise and steam.  You can scrape all of the crusty bits out of the bottom while the wine is cooking – these really help with the flavor. 

6.     Cook on high until the wine is reduced by about half.

7.     Add the vegetable stock, put the beef strips back in and bring to a boil.

8.     Add the bay leaves and other seasonings and stir.

9.     Put on the lid and put in the oven at 350 for an hour.  You could actually do this on the stovetop as well at a very low temperature.

10.  Take it out of the oven and put it back on top of the stove.  Take off the lid to see how thick it is – at this point it may be thick enough, but if you think it needs to be a bit thicker, mix together a cornstarch/water slurry and drizzle it in while stirring until it reaches the thickness you want.

11.  Add the sour cream, a small bit at a time until it reaches the taste that you want (if you want a vegan version, use vegan sour cream).
Stroganoff, after adding sour cream

12.  Serve over cooked egg noodles (it would probably be good over rice as well).  For a vegan version, use eggless noodles or serve over rice.


If an entire bottle of wine seems like it's too much, simply use more vegetable stock.  Just make sure that the beef strips and mushrooms, etc. are covered by liquid.  I make my own vegetable stock (which is actually VERY simple and tastes MUCH better than store bought) but whichever kind you use will work fine.
  


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