Beef Stroganoff by Thomas Keller

This was the pièce de résistance from the Ad Hoc At Home cookout that Koen and I had in December: Beef Stroganoff.

Originally a mid-19th-century Russian dish with sautéed pieces of beef in a sour cream sauce, but it has evolved around the world. In the introduction of the recipe in Ad Hoc Ad Home, Thomas Keller admits nostalgia for Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup inspired his version of Beef Stroganoff. Therefore, the dish can be better described as Pappardelle with Braised Beef Short Ribs and Creamy Mushroom sauce.

By choosing this recipe, we knew that the main challenge would be to get the cut of meat from the recipe as in Europe cattle are butchered in rather different sections than in the US. Fortunately, due to an increasing number of butchers catering to the “low and slow” trend, it is getting earlier to get bigger BBQ cuts, but unfortunately the “boneless chuck short rib” we needed, was nowhere to be found. After digging through many BBQ forums, I decided that the best solution was to get nice and meaty beef short ribs and debone them myself. As an upside, we could use the bones to make a nice and quick home-made beef stock with my pressure cooker.

Making the braised short ribs was an elaborate adventure by itself, as you will see below, but the results were fantastic. Finishing the short ribs cubes in the oven was great: crispy on the outside and incredibly succulent and melt in your mouth tender on the inside. Having tasted the braising liquid before adding the beef, we thought it was pretty strong, so we were somewhat surprised that it imparted a rather delicate flavour to the beef, not overpowering the taste of the meat itself. Therefore, we were convinced in hindsight that the prep for making the red wine reduction, braise and beef stock was well worth it. The thick mushroom sauce is the epitome of pure earthy mushroom taste and was an amazing combination with the homemade pappardelle. Obviously, due to the cream, the mushroom sauce was incredibly rich, so a little goes a long way.

The Recipe
For the Red Wine Reduction

  • 1 bottle dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (1 cup, 1¼cm / ½” thick)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced (1 cup, 1¼cm / ½” thick)
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced (1 cup,1¼ cm / ½” thick)
  • 4 shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
  • 3 large garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed
  • 150g / 1 cup button mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6-sprigs flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns

For the Braise

  • 1 piece boneless chuck short rib (about 1¼kg / 2¾ lbs, I had 2 pieces weighing in at 2¼kg / 5 lbs)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • All-purpose flour, to coat the beef
  • Sunflower oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced (1 cup, 1¼cm / ½” thick)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced (1 cup, 1¼cm / ½” thick)
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, sliced (1 cup,1¼ cm / ½” thick)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, skin left on, smashed
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1¼lt / 5 cups beef stock
  1. Combine all the ingredient for the red wine reduction in a large roasting tin or Dutch oven that will hold the meat comfortably.
  2. Bring everything to a boil over high heat and reduce the heat to maintain a simmer for about 45 minutes, until the wine has reduced to a thick glaze.
  3. Meanwhile, trim any pieces of sinew from the top of the short ribs; leave the layer of fat and silver-skin. Remove any remaining connecting tissue from where the bones were removed. Season all sides generously with salt and pepper and coat in flour, patting off any excess.
  4. Preheat the oven to 175C/350F.
  5. Heat some sunflower oil in a large sauté pan over high heat until it shimmers. Add the meat fat-side-down, reduce the heat, and brown the meat for 3 minutes. Turn the meat and brown the other side.
  6. Add the onion, carrots, leeks, garlic, thyme and bay leaves from the to the wine reduction and toss together.
    Cut a piece of cheesecloth about 10 cm / 4″ larger than the diameter of the pot or roasting tin. Moisten the cheesecloth and wring dry, place over the vegetables, and fold over the edges to form a “nest” for the meat. The cheesecloth will allow the liquid to flavour and cook the meat but prevent bits of vegetables and herbs from clinging to it.
    Place the meat on the cheesecloth and add the beef stock; it should come just to the top of the meat. Cut a parchment lid and place it over the meat.
  7. Transfer the pot or roasting tin to the oven, reduce the heat to 165C/325F and braise the beef for 1½ to 2 hours, until very tender. To check, uncover the meat and press on it: the fibres should separate as you press down, but the meat shouldn’t be falling apart.
  8. Transfer the meat to a heatproof container. Strain the braising liquid twice through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, skim off the fat and strain the liquid over the meat. The meat can be refrigerated in the liquid for up to 3 days, we used it that later that afternoon, but keeping the meat in the liquid for only a couple of hours did add even more flavour to the beef ribs.

For the Sautéed Mushrooms

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 500g / 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced ½cm / ¼” thick
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Heat a large frying pan over medium-heat and add the butter and oil.
  2. Add the mushrooms, season with salt and pepper and brown without stirring for about 3 minutes. Flip and brown, about another 1-2 minutes and set aside.

For the Mushroom Cream Sauce

  • 500g / 1 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced (1 cup, 1¼cm / ½” thick)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 750ml / 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 sachet of 1 bay leaf, 3 thyme sprigs and 10 peppercorns
  • 40ml / 1/3 cup crème fraîche
  1. Process the mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped.
  2. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the mushrooms, increase the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evaporated, about 10-15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour in the cream, add the sachet and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium-low and simmer until the cream is reduced by about one-third, about 35 minutes.
  5. When the cream has thickened, discard the sachet, and strain the mushroom bits out.
  6. Heat the sauce on medium low heat, stir in the crème fraîche and add 3/4 of the sautéed mushrooms. Keep the sauce warm over very low heat.

For actually serving the dish

  • Braised Beef Ribs, chilled
  • Pappardelle (store bought or home-made, we used 100g / 3oz or fresh pasta per person)
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter at room temperature
  • flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
  • coarse sea salt
  1. Bring a big pot of salted water to boil for the pappardelle.
  2. Pre-heat an oven-safe frying pan over medium-high heat.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 175C/350F.
  4. Cut the chilled short ribs into 5cm / 2″ cubes and brown in an ovenproof frying pan, presentation-side down for about 2 minutes, flip and then transfer to the oven and heat through for about 10 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, cook the pappardelle according to package directions and reserve 125 ml / ½ cup of the cooking water and drain.
  6. Return the pasta to the pot and toss with the butter and the mushroom sauce. If the sauce seems a bit too thick, add some cooking water to thin.
  7. Arrange the pasta on a platter and top with the remaining sautéed mushrooms, browned short ribs, flat leaf parsley and sea salt.

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