Primed to romance your certain someone on Valentine’s Day? Nothing says “I love you” more persuasively than a home-cooked meal. This one-pot noodle dish, a variation on Beef Stroganoff, is the ideal messenger.
Although the roots of the classic recipe are certifiably aristocratic — a French chef working for Count Pavel Stroganoff, a Russian, created it in the early 1800s — Beef Stroganoff was being treated pretty roughly in America by the 1960s. At that time, when “convenience” trumped every other value, home cooks loved being able to whip up a fancy main course using canned gravy, canned mushrooms, canned minced onions and canned roast beef.
We’re gonna treat it with a little more respect in this recipe for Amped-Up Beef Stroganoff. To start, the basics remain unchanged — thin slices of beef fillet topped with a sauce of fresh mushrooms and sour cream, all of it ladled over noodles. But I’ve beefed up the umami — and intensified the taste — with dried mushrooms, tomato paste and Dijon mustard. Also, we cook the noodles in the sauce, which makes them that much more delicious.
Ideally, your steak of choice will be beef fillet — it is Valentine’s Day, after all — but if you don’t want to splurge, you can swap in less expensive cuts. And if you can’t find dried porcini, you’ll be fine with dried shiitakes or a mix of dried mushrooms. In truth, any dried mushroom packs a one-two punch, contributing not only itself, but also the savory liquid generated when it’s rehydrated. That mushroom liqueur makes a lip-smacking base for any sauce.
What to serve alongside this love offering? A nice refreshing salad involving citrus will provide the perfect contrast. And don’t forget the stagecraft! Set a proper table with cloth napkins and mats, a candle or two, and a bottle of robust red wine.
AMPED-UP BEEF STROGANOFF
Start to finish: 1 hour
1 1/2 ounces dried porcini, rinsed
1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
8 ounces filet mignon cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot or onion
4 ounces sliced fresh mushrooms (white, cremini, exotic or a mix)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon flour
1/3 cup dry red wine
4 ounces egg noodles
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
In a small saucepan combine the porcini mushrooms and the beef broth and bring the mixture just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the mushrooms steep for 15 minutes. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer, reserving it, and chop the mushrooms.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium- high heat. Season the meat with salt and pepper and add it to the pan. Sear the meat quickly on all sides and transfer it to a plate.
Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the skillet and cook stirring until softened; add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the garlic, thyme, tomato paste and flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute.
Add the red wine, reserved broth, 1 1/2 cups water, the chopped porcini and the noodles to the skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are just al dente, about 10 minutes, adding additional water if necessary to keep the noodles partly submerged. Stir in the sour cream, Dijon and lemon juice; adjust the seasoning if necessary. Add the beef and beef juices and simmer just until the meat is heated, about 1 minute. Serve right away, sprinkled with the parsley.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Sara Moulton is host of public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including “Cooking Live.” Her latest cookbook is “Home Cooking 101.”