Lean yet tasty take on a Rus­sian clas­sic

Beef stroganoff burg­ers a meal fit for a king

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - SARA MOUL­TON

With the Olympics in Rus­sia loom­ing, let’s turn to a Rus­sian cui­sine clas­sic, namely, beef stroganoff. A rich dish with a noble birthright (schol­ars dis­agree about which par­tic­u­lar Count Stroganoff the dish is named for), beef stroganoff was a sta­ple at Amer­ica’s tonier restau­rants dur­ing the 60s and 70s.

The stan­dard recipe calls for thinly sliced beef with a sauce of sautéed mush­rooms and sour cream. But I’ve en­gi­neered a healthy ver­sion that de­liv­ers lux­u­ri­ous flavour us­ing lean ground beef and low-fat sour cream. The ob­vi­ous ap­peal of lean ground beef is it cuts the fat. And if you can find 100-per-cent, grass-fed ground beef, you’ll be us­ing an in­gre­di­ent that’s good for the en­vi­ron­ment, too.

Ei­ther way, you’ll need to do some­thing to coun­ter­bal­ance the ten­dency of lean ground beef to turn into a dry burger. My usual so­lu­tion is to reach for sautéed onions or shred­ded car­rots or cab­bage. But this time, out of re­spect for tra­di­tional stroganoff, it made sense to go with mush­rooms.

My first pass, us­ing sautéed fresh mush­rooms, re­sulted in burg­ers that were crumbly. The sec­ond pass, us­ing soaked dried mush­rooms, worked out much bet­ter. Dried mush­rooms — soaked in chicken broth, wa­ter, or wine — bring two as­sets to any recipe: the mush­rooms them­selves and the in­stant (and deeply flavour­ful) sauce pro­vided by the liq­uid in which the mush­rooms are soaked.

Teamed up with some caramelize­d onions, the mush­rooms made the burg­ers nice and moist. The veg­gies also added bulk. Now the burg­ers weren’t just moist, they were plump and sub­stan­tial, qual­i­ties that don’t ap­ply to the stan­dard quar­ter-pounder.

Truth­fully, though, the burg­ers are just an ex­cuse for the sauce. Made of caramelize­d onions, fresh crem­ini mush­rooms and the mush­room soak­ing liq­uid, then fin­ished with low-fat sour cream and Di­jon mus­tard, this sauce is a mush­room lover’s dream. When it is added to the burg­ers, you have a dish lux­u­ri­ous enough for a king, let alone a count.

Beef Stroganoff Burg­ers

Start to fin­ish: 50 min­utes Serv­ings: 4 1 oz (28 g) dried mush­rooms (porcini, shi­itake, chanterell­e, oys­ter, but­ton or a mix) 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) low-sodium chicken broth 3 tbsp (45 mL) veg­etable oil, di­vided 1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped yel­low onion

1 tsp (5 mL) minced gar­lic 4 oz (114 g) fresh crem­ini mush­rooms, trimmed and thinly sliced 1 1/2 tbsp (22.5 mL) all-pur­pose flour

In a small saucepan over medium-high, com­bine the dried mush­rooms with the broth and bring to a boil. Cover, re­move from the heat and let stand for 15 min­utes, or un­til the mush­rooms are soft. Re­serv­ing the broth, strain the mix­ture through a strainer lined with a wet pa­per towel. Clean the mush­rooms if you see any dirt on the edges, then finely chop them and set aside. While the dried mush­rooms are soak­ing, in a large non-stick skil­let over medium, heat 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the oil. Add the onion and cook, stir­ring oc­ca­sion­ally, un­til the onion is golden brown, about 5 min­utes. Add the gar­lic and cook, stir­ring, for 1 minute. Us­ing a slot­ted spoon, trans­fer half of the onion mix­ture to a medium bowl.

Add another ta­ble­spoon of the oil and the fresh mush­rooms to the skil­let and cook, stir­ring, un­til the mush­rooms give off all their liq­uid. Add the flour and cook, stir­ring, for 1 minute. Add the re­served mush­room broth in a stream, whisk­ing, then bring to a boil and sim­mer for 2 min­utes. Whisk in the sour cream and mus­tard, then sea­son with salt and pep­per. Trans­fer the sauce to a saucepan and keep warm.

Wash the skil­let and re­turn it to the stove.

Add the chopped, re­con­sti­tuted, dried mush­rooms to the onions in the bowl along with a hefty pinch of salt, ground black pep­per to taste, and the ground beef. Mix well and form into 4 burg­ers.

In the cleaned skil­let, heat the re­main­ing ta­ble­spoon of oil over medium. Sea­son the burg­ers lightly with salt and pep­per, then add them to the skil­let. Cook the burg­ers for 3 to 5 min­utes per side de­pend­ing on the de­sired de­gree of done­ness (3 min­utes for rare and 5 for medium-well).

Trans­fer the burg­ers to each of 4 plates and spoon some sauce over each por­tion. Two 7 1/2-oz (202 g) pack­ages farmer’s cheese

3 eggs 1/2 cup (125 mL) all-pur­pose flour, plus more for dredg­ing 1/4 cup (60 mL) su­gar

1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) bak­ing soda Zest of 2 lemons

Veg­etable oil, for fry­ing

In a food pro­ces­sor, pulse the cheese un­til finely chopped. Trans­fer to a medium bowl and stir to­gether with the eggs, 1/2 cup (125 mL) of flour, su­gar, salt, bak­ing soda and le­mon zest. The dough should be soft and some­what sticky. Cover the bowl and re­frig­er­ate for at least 1 hour.

Form the dough into small rounds, the size of a wal­nut. Flat­ten into pat­ties, then lightly dredge in flour. Set aside.

In a large skil­let over medi­umhigh, heat about 1/4 inch (6 mm) of oil. Fry the pat­ties for 3 min­utes per side, adding ad­di­tional oil be­tween batches as needed. Serve im­me­di­ately.

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