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THE STEAK LADY, DANBURY, CONNECTICUT, 1953

Steak Lady

A woman posing proudly with a fatty porterhouse steak, loosely wrapped in plastic, is letting all of the cold air out of the hardest working appliance in the house – it never stops! Between the big slab of meat, wheel of cheese, two jars of mayonnaise, bottle of mystery sauce, single tomato, bag of carrots, can of apple juice and quart of Borden’s homogenized milk the food pyramid is well represented here. A refrigerator’s job is simple – to preserve food. General Electric introduced the first in 1939.

I stood in front of my refrigerator/freezer combo this week holding some meat too. That’s because I was getting ready to do some cooking. I made an Americana Classic – Beef Stroganoff. According to several of the vintage recipe books I consulted before concocting my own version of the recipe, Beef Stroganoff is a dish that comes to us from Russia. I’ve never been to Russia nor have I ever eaten in what I would call a Russian Restaurant. Let’s face it, Russia is not known for its cuisine and Beef Stroganoff is about as Russian as Sweet and Sour Pork is Chinese.

Anyway, my recipe was inspired by the Beef Stroganoff that my brother’s high school choir teacher brought to a potluck at our house in 1977. It was SO good I knew the moment that I took that first bite I would never forget that sensational savory blend of beef, mushrooms and dairy over noodles flavored beer. This week in the Phoenix Test Kitchen nearly three decades later I finally recreated my brother’s high school choir teacher’s Beef Stroganoff. Try it, you’ll LOVE it!!!!!

Beef Stroganoff

the ingredients:

the steps:

  1. Boil salted water for the noodles in a big pot. Mince the garlic, chop the onion and slice the mushrooms. Cut the filet mignon into 1/8” thick strips.
  2. Sauté the garlic and onion in half the butter in a biggest skillet you have over a medium to high flame. Add the meat as the onions begin to get translucent. When the meat is just about cooked add the mushrooms.
  3. By this time the water for the noodles is boiling so pour them in.
  4. Back to the skillet, stir in the sour cream, the rest of the butter and the beer. Breathe deep – it smells REALLY good! Thicken with Wondra. Combine the drained noodles with the skillet mixture. Bring to a quick boil then cover and simmer over a low flame for ten minutes.

Serve with enormous pride and a big smile by candlelight on your best dishes on the dining room table. To go with it a simple green salad with salted, seeded tomatoes tossed with oil and vinegar and a couple of bottles of your favorite red wine. For dessert – Neapolitan Ice cream.

Cheers to the Steak Lady, the Beef Stroganoff and YOU!