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~ Veal Stroganoff Casserole ~

PICT0234 Culinarily, the word "stroganoff" refers to a dish that consists of thin (shaved) slices of beef tenderloin, sliced onions and sometimes carrots, that are all quickly sauteed in butter and combined with a rich sour cream and wine sauce.  It is served accompanied by rice pilaf or atop egg noodles, although on occasion it is served wrapped in a crepe.  The dish is said to be named after the 19th century Russian diplomat, Count Pavel Stroganov, but an alternative explanation refers to the Russian verb "strogat", meaning "to shave".  After the fall of Imperial Russia, the recipe made its way to the outside world and was popularly served in hotels and restaurants around the globe, each putting forth their own interpretation, meaning:  tender proteins such as chicken breast, lamb and veal were substituted for the beef, and, they were sometimes coarsely ground or cut into cubes or strips (instead of thin slices).  Classic stroganoff of any variation is indeed an elegant recipe to have in your repertoire.

This being said, unless you are using expensive tenderloin, the quick-cooking method of preparation is disappointing.  Why?  Well, lesser cuts of meat get tough and chewy, and that is a variation on this elegant recipe that is completely unacceptable.  That being said, about 15-16 years ago, Joe and I were hosting a small dinner party in our dining room for a friend's birthday in mid-December.  He had eaten my veal stroganoff once before and asked me if I would mind making it again.  I was totally flattered and agreed to do so.  Unfortunately,  there were no veal tenderloins in any of our Happy Valley markets that week, I had to change the menu, he understood and life went on.

This situation played on my mind for a couple of weeks afterward.  Then one morning, while doing my meat marketing at our beloved O.W. Houts & Sons, I saw some beautiful veal cubes in the butcher case.  My friend and butcher Chris told me he had just finished trimming and cutting them from a veal top roast, plus he was just getting ready to feature them as that days "sale" item.  "I'll take 'em all", I said.  And off I went, with six pounds of veal cubes, two boxes of farfalle noodles, two containers of sour cream and an idea.  It was my plan to develop a version of this classic recipe that feeds more people for less money and tasted just as good... a hearty, comforting, family-style veal stroganoff casserole!















6  pounds veal, cut into 3/4" cubes, not too big/not too small

8  tablespoons butter (1 stick)

1  teaspoon sea salt

1  teaspoon white pepper

2  pounds yellow or sweet onion, quartered and very thinly sliced/shaved

1 1/2  pounds carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4"-thick coins

2  pounds stemmed and sliced white button mushroom caps, sliced 1/4" thick

2  tablespoons dried dill weed

4  tablespoons Wondra Quick-Mixing Flour for Sauce and Gravy

2  cups sweet white wine (total throughout recipe)

3  cups sour cream

1  teaspoon additional sea salt

1  teaspoon additional white pepper

1 1/2  pounds farfalle noodles, plus, 2  sticks room temperature butter, for buttering noodles

minced, fresh dill, for garnishing casserole

freshly ground peppercorn blend, for serving at tableside

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing casserole

PICT0108  ~ Step 1.  If you are using vacuum-packed veal cubes, as I often do, rinse them under cold running water and pat them dry in paper towels.  Drying them is important so they will brown properly.  If any or all of them are too large, cut them in half.  In a 14" chef's pan, melt the butter and stir in the sea salt and white pepper.  Add the veal cubes.

PICT0120 ~ Step 2.  Adjust heat to medium-high to saute the veal.  Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the veal is lightly browned, cooked through and almost no liquid remains in the bottom of the pan.  

This process will take about 25-30 minutes. Lower the heat as necessary, during the last 5-10 minutes, to avoid any scorching.

PICT0123 ~ Step 3.  Using a large slotted spoon, remove the veal from the pan and transfer it to a 4-quart casserole that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.

Note:  The size of the casserole dish is very important.  It must be a 4-quart casserole in order for all of the ingredients to fit in at the end without leftovers!

Cover the casserole of veal with aluminum foil and set aside while deglazing the pan and preparing the vegetables and sauce.

PICT0126 ~ Step 4.  Add 1 cup of the wine to the hot pan of veal drippings and browned bits.  Be prepared for a lot of steam to billow up.






~ Step 5.  Using a spatula, deglaze the pan by gently scraping the bottom of the pan and stirring the simmering wine, to loosen as many of the browned bits from the bottom of the pan as possible.




~ Step 6.  Add the sliced onions, carrots and mushrooms to the skillet, along with the 1 teaspoon each of additional salt and white pepper.





~ Step 7.  Adjust the heat to saute. Continue to cook until the onions are very soft, the carrots are fork tender, the mushrooms have lost their moisture and only a thin layer of liquid remains in the bottom of the pan, about 25-30 minutes.  

Turn the heat off.





~ Step 8.  One at a time, slowly and thoroughly, add and stir in the dried dill weed, the flour and the remaining 1 cup of wine.

Stir in the the sour cream, until the mixture is uniformly cream-colored and creamy.

Adjust the heat to just steaming or barely simmering.  Remove from heat.

PICT0163 ~ Step 9.  Spoon and fold all of the vegetables and creamy sauce into the casserole with the veal.








~ Step 10.  The casserole is ready to go into the oven!

Cover it with aluminum foil...





... and bake on center rack of preheated 275 degree oven for 2 hours.  

Note:  275 degrees is not a typo, it is the correct temperature.

Remove from oven and set aside to rest, for about 30 minutes, while:



~ Step 11.  In an 8-quart stockpot, cook the pasta according to directions, until al dente.  Drain thoroughly and return still hot pasta to still hot stockpot.  Return stockpot to still hot stovetop.  Cut the butter into pieces and toss into pasta. Continue to toss until butter is completely melted.  Cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes, to give pasta time to absorb all of the butter.

~ Step 12.  Portion pasta into the bottom of desired-sized bowls and top each with a generous spoonful or two of the veal mixture.  Garnish each portion with minced, fresh dill, freshly ground peppercorn blend and serve immediately!

PICT0215Veal Stroganoff Casserole:  Recipe yields 12-16 hearty servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; paper towels; 14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; aluminum foil; spatula; 1-cup measuring container; large slotted spoon; 4-quart casserole; 8-quart stockpot w/lid; colander

Cook's Note:  While this hearty casserole feeds a lot of people, which makes it ideal for a large gathering, I have written the recipe so it is easy to cut in half or quartered to feed a smaller group or a family of four.  As with many casseroles, this one tastes even better reheated the next day, so, make the full recipe and enjoy the leftovers!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschuti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


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