Monday, September 08, 2008

What's for dinner: Cooking from the pantry

Today, because I was doing canning, I didn’t feel like running to pick up groceries.  I do, however, have a well-stocked pantry so dinner prep wasn’t too bad.  I buy eye of round roast when it is on sale and slice it into ½” slices, freezing them 2 slices per package.  I pulled out one of those, it thaws quickly in a water bath.  I had sour cream on hand, not an everyday occurrence, so I immediately thought I would do a beef Stroganoff.  No fresh mushrooms, but I always have dried shiitakes that I grind to a powder, and dried porcini mushrooms as well.  With an onion, some garlic, a little Dijon mustard, and some commercial beef base (not at all like bouillon cubes) I was set.  But – oh no! – I did not have egg noodles.  Sure I could use pasta, but with a nod to the “Russian” origins of Stroganoff, I decided to cook up some barley.  Three to one ratio of water to barley, well-salted, and tossed in some of the shiitake powder for more earthy flavor and a little olive oil.

The barley cooks for nearly an hour, so I had lots of time to get the rest of the meal ready. Slice the beef into julienne strips, toss with a little salt.  Chop a cup of onion, use the microplane to grate a clove of garlic.  Mix about a tablespoon each of the different mushrooms into a cup of boiling water (love that instant hot water faucet!) and add a teaspoon of the beef base.  Cook the onions in a skillet over high heat until most of the moisture is gone and they just start to brown.  Add beef strips and cook until pink is gone, add garlic.  Stir in 2 T flour and stir to cook the flour for a minute or so, then add the mushroom/beef broth and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.  Scrape down the skillet and make sure it mixes with no lumps.  Add in some chopped fresh thyme and parsley, simmer for a few minutes to be sure the flour is cooked.  Turn to very low until ready to serve.  When barley is nearly done, add ½ c sour cream to the beef and stir to combine, be sure it doesn’t boil or it will curdle.  Serve over barley.

If I were using fresh mushrooms, I would slice them and cook them with the onions.  This would of course be just fine over egg noodles; the barley gave a wonderful chewy texture and earthy complement to the mushrooms and beef.

We had a nice Washington Hills Gewürztraminer, I think it was a 2006. 


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