Thursday, November 3, 2011

What Part of the Cow Does the Cube Come From?

One thing that is interesting about shopping for meat at the farmer's market is the opportunity to try new and different meats.  Not just new and different in terms of Elk, Bison, and Goat, all of which were quite tasty, but also the opportunity to try new and different cuts.  You can't always get the t-bone when the t-bone costs $24.99 a pound...

So I see what they have, and then I buy what they have.  Last week, it was the cube steak.

Here is what I expected:

Cubes of meat.  Like for stew and junk.  A steak, in cube form.

Here is what I got:

An unidentifiable meat, pounded to within an inch of it's life.  Not ground beef, though, because it's just pounded, not cut through.

I am sure that there is at least someone out there reading this who is thinking, or even commenting aloud, about what a dummy I am.  Because after going home and Googling cube steak, I learned that it is very much a thing.  It is, in fact, the official meat that one uses to make chicken fried steak.

I have never made chicken fried steak.  I have never eaten chicken fried steak!  I'm not even sure what makes a thing "chicken fried!"

I'm going to find out.  But not today.

In this recipe I used the steak in the crock pot to make stroganoff.

(Caution: Dirty Joke Alert!  What do you call a lonely bull?  Beef Stroganoff!)

Chicken Stroganoff was a main staple of my childhood.  It's not a fancy food on its own, and my mom's version is super not fancy. It's also super delicious.  It involves a can of golden mushroom soup!  Unfortunately, Cambell's is NOT local (located out of NJ), so I instead use a pretty good recipe out of my Essentials of Slow Cooking book.   

According to the always authoritative, always accurate Wikipedia, the first known recipe for "Govjadina po-strogonovski (Beef a la Stroganov with mustard) - printed in 1861 - involves lightly floured beef cubes, which are sauteed and sauced with prepared mustard and bouillon.  That's it.  The Wikipedia article specifically points out that this recipe calls for no mushrooms or onions, which makes me think that these are mandatory ingredients in most modern stroganoffs. There are both in my current recipe, but I don't remember onions in my mom's recipe.  Might have been because I was a child and therefore didn't like onions.

On a side, only somewhat related note: I have commented previously that I am big in Germany (like the Hoff).  Right now Germany is still my #2 highest hit country (after the US), but Russia is quickly gaining ground and is only 10 hits behind!  Come on Russia!  Let's beat Germany!  I may not know how to say anything in Russian, but I do love me some Vodka! GO VODKA!

I thought this recipe worked out pretty well.  The meat really did fall apart, and was almost like ground beef by the time I was done with it, but it seemed to incorporate into the sauce more than ground beef would have.  Other than that, it tasted like what I think beef stroganoff should taste like.  Warm, rich, and a little tangy from the sour cream.  Nothing too fancy.  Good fall weeknight comfort food.  Not sure if it tasted like what beef stroganoff should ACTUALLY taste like, so I'm going to need the Russians to update me on that one.  I did cheat and use some store-bought egg noodles.  Sorry, it was a busy work night!

Beef Stroganoff with Mushrooms

  • tbsp all-purpose flour (L)
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, divided (L)
  • 1 lb cube steak, cut into strips (L)
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced (L)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (L)
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 cups chicken broth (L)
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme (L*)
  • 1 1/2 lb fresh wild mushrooms (L), rinsed, stems removed, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces (L)
  • 2 cups sour cream (L)
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried mustard
Put flour in a shallow bowl, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  In a large frying pan (or if your crock pot accommodates browning) melt 2 tbsp butter.  Dredge the steak strips in the flour, and brown on both sides in the butter.  Work in batches and do not over-crowd.  Set browned steaks aside.  In the same pan, add the remaining butter and cook the onions over medium heat until tender.  Add the garlic and saute for an additional 30 seconds.  Add the wine and de-glaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits.  If using a pan for this step, place the onion/garlic/wine mixture into the crock pot, and top with browned steak.  If browning in the slow-cooker, simply add the steak to the pot with the onions.  Add broth, thyme, and mushrooms and cook on slow for 6-8 hours on the low cook setting.

When ready to eat, stir together the remaining ingredients and add to the crock pot.  Cover and cook on high for about 5 minutes, or until sauce warms up and thickens.

1 comment:

  1. Nice try with that one. I too am now going to Google "chicken fried steak".  ;•)