We spent the summer of 94 in Poland. Mostly out in the countryside since hubby was sourcing strawberries for delicious Norwegian jam. While he was driving farm to farm I was hanging out at the hotel trying to find something interesting to do. Do we see a trend here?
Anyway, we were staying at a hotel with a few apartments for extended-stay guests. Our little two bedroom had limited cooking facilities, so we could cook an egg and make a pot of tea but making spaghetti was out of the question. Not that it mattered, since they had little at the local grocery store.
In the city we stayed in there was one butcher, he sold out everyday by 12 and then locked up. The neighboring store had canned peas and carrots displayed in the window but the store was empty. They just had canned peas and carrots. There was another store that carried potato chips and cigarettes- non ruffled with paprika and Marlboros. That was all they had.
Fruits and vegetables could be found in the market but that was a rather harrowing experience. The market was filled with old trucks, crates and men dressed for the great depression, all baggy pants, worn dress shirts and caps. For a recent immigrant from the Midwest, accustomed to shopping at Cub this was a frightening experience.
So, mostly, we ate at the castle restaurant. The restaurant too expensive for the average person living in the area so the guests were boring foreigners like us. They had two dishes. Carp or Beef Stroganoff. The carp was full of bones, so we only had that once but the Beef Stroganoff was amazing. They prepared it at the table and after about 20 times I had the recipe and preparation pretty clear in my head.
Last week we made some dietary adjustments to the recipe and adapted it for the slow cooker. Enjoy!
Castle Beef Stroganoff
500 gr beef tenderloin (in strips)
pat of salted butter
2/3 cup cognac
1 cup red wine
500 gr sliced fresh mushrooms
2 sliced onions
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Worcestershire sauce, to taste
1 tablespoons roasted paprika
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
Cream to taste
Get your slow cooker warmed up while you brown the ingredients.
Don’t forget to pat your meat dry. Melt butter in non stick skillet til bubbly. Add meat and saute til browned. Add cognac and let reduce til half. Then remove meat and liquid from skillet and place in slow cooker.
Wipe down your skillet and dry “fry” your mushrooms, a little bit at a time. Dump into slow cooker as they finish and continue until all your ‘shrooms are steaming and golden. (If you don’t believe that dry batch sauteing mushrooms is worth while please go and rent Julie and Julia or pick up a copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the art of French Cooking and read it before proceeding.)
Add a little butter to the skillet and fry your onions. Add to slow cooker when they are translucent.
Return skillet to burner and deglaze your pan with that nice red, red wine. Now add that to your slow cooker.
Add tomato paste to your empty hot skillet and stir inn milk. Then begin adding the seasonings Dijon, Worcestershire sauce or Wurtz, rosemary, roasted paprika, salt and pepper to taste.
You should have a good strong and pleasant taste, the sauce will mellow in the cooker so it should be quite full bodied at this stage. When your sauce is thickened, add the tomato mixture to the slow cooker. Stir well and place the lid on. Temperature on medium for 6 – 8 hours.
The last hour add between 1/2 cup to a cup of cream to get a nice orange color, stir and replace the lid.
Serve with rice, spætzle or potatoes and some nice green beans.
It’s a departure from the white Beef Stroganoff of Midwest church basements but you’ll never look back after you have tasted it. The hotel also used the leftovers diluted as a soup which was very delicious.
Stuck in Poland? I entertained myself and kept up to date with goings on by reading The Warsaw Voice. They seem to have a very active expat environment there and it is still going strong.