Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Cooking with Spirits" - Beef Stroganoff Neumann

Date I made this recipe: October 17, 2010

Cooking with Spirits by Ruth Vendley Neumann
Published by: Reilly & Lee
Copyright 1961
Recipe: Beef Stroganoff Neumann – p. 80

How do I love [the TV show] Mad Men? Let me count the ways--thirteen of them to be exact, one for every episode in this terribly short season. (Note to Matt Weiner—

A few months back, when Mad Men started its 4th season, I made a recipe from The Madison Avenue Cookbook, written, oddly enough, by a former advertising man.

So it seemed fitting to end the season with a nod to the show and what better way to do so than to make a recipe from a cookbook called Cooking with Spirits (spirits being “alcohol” for those unfamiliar with that term)? Alcohol, after all, plays a pivotal role in this series. Back then, drinking in the office was part of the daily work life and even in the early 80’s, my coworkers and I would partake in an occasional liquid lunch with full knowledge and approval of management…mostly because they joined us! Yes, I know—how times have changed…

…but not in my house! I have quite the retro drink cart in my home as well as another beautiful wooden liquor cabinet a friend made me. Although many of the bottles are for show, a few did come in handy for this recipe as I had both red wine and the requisite bourbon on hand. This is especially helpful on a Sunday when the liquor stores are closed (at least in Minnesota; nearby Wisconsin is much more flexible allowing the sale of spirits at a gas station. You’ve got to love that—gas up and get gassed all at the same time!)

So anyway, I got a late start and barely got this dish done in time for the finale but it was worth it. The only complaint is that I am used to my stroganoff being a little thicker than this one was but that’s about it. (By the way, I consider stroganoff a typical 60’s dish along with chicken Kiev and beef burgundy—another perfect touch to celebrate a show taking place during that time).

Before I leave you, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention a few things about the show. First, was there ever a funnier character than this year’s Miss Blankenship? You had to love the episode where Don, for whom she worked, came in and she yelled at the top of her lungs: “GOOD AFTERNOON. YOUR DAUGHTER’S PSYCHIATRIST CALLED.” In addition to her lack of discretion, Blankenship had an amazing knack for announcing Don’s visitors after they had already been seated in his office. It’s a darned shame that they killed her off this season but such is life. RIP, “Ida.”

And then there’s one of my favorite characters, Roger Sterling. Roger is the king of one-liners and has a knack for making hilarious comments when least expected. My personal favorite was from a couple seasons ago when Don and Betty entertained Roger as well as fellow ad-men Crab Colson and Duck Phillips. When Roger introduced the men to each other he said (and I quote) “Crab, Duck. Duck, Crab.” I say that line all the time if for no other reason than it is funny – damned funny.

At any rate, this is a fun dish that doesn’t involve duck or crab (couldn’t resist) but does have those spirits that Mad Men is known for. Until next summer (sigh)…

Beef Stroganoff Neumann in bourbon and red wine – serves 8 generously2 lb. lean beef, cut into 1-inch cubes and rolled in flour
¼ lb. butter
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced, or 2 3-oz. cans broiled mushrooms
6 medium onion, sliced thin
1 cup canned tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
2 tsp. celery salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 tsp. paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
3 beef bouillon cubes
T tbsp. bourbon
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 cup sour cream
1 cup pitted ripe olives, liquid reserved
½ cup liquid from can of ripe olives
Noodles or rice

Brown meat in butter over low heat. Add mushrooms and onions and cook 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, wine, seasonings, garlic and bouillon cubes. Cover and simmer at low heat for about an hour or until meat is tender. Mix bourbon and cornstarch until smooth, and add to meat mixture. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Then stir in sour cream and ripe olives and simmer for 10 minutes longer. If extra liquid is needed for gravy, add liquid from lives. Serve with hot buttered rice or egg noodles.

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