Flavor Fail: Beef Stroga-not
It’s not all roses and daisies here at GHT. We have high expectations and need to bring it. And once in a while, it happens. The plan executed, the food lookin’ nice, the family hungry. But then – the big fizzle. It’s just not that good.
FreshDirect “President’s Picks” had a good deal on petit filet mignons, so the Mrs. ordered a couple pounds figuring we could get something together. We’d been away the weekend, so the first whack I got at the filets was Monday night. On the 4 train home, it came to me — Beef Stroganoff. Pasta, steak, mushrooms, sauce. Nice. Out of the subway on Fulton, Google a recipe on the bberry along the block home. Stop by Jubilee, pick up mushrooms, pasta, cream, etc.
Now I’m not going to run thru the prep here, because what I did just failed. There was a significant lack of any flavor. So what went wrong? Let’s discuss:
- Browning the beef chunks- I crowded the pan and they steamed rather than seared, so I didn’t get a nice brown flavorful crust (and there was no fond in the pan to deglaze).
- Seasoning – filet is pretty bland, and needs some spice. I didn’t season the chunks well enough before they hit the pan.
- Fresh pasta – should be blanched quickly and finished in the sauce. Here, I left it in the boiling water too long and it lost all bite. Plus, because it was already overcooked, I didn’t finish in the sauce. So it didn’t pick up any of those flavors.
- Fresh herbs – this dish needs some (like dill), I didn’t use any.
- The mushroom cream sauce – flat and muddy. What it needed was a good hit of acid, like lemon juice or capers or even a splash of vinegar. The mistake here – I didn’t taste as I was going along. A good sauce can make up for other shortcomings, but here it just highlighted my otherwise poor technique.
- Because the pasta was over and the beef didn’t get a crust, the whole dish was mono-textural. Plain Jane.
- Lastly, don’t trust the first recipe you hit on Google. Get a few, then compare/contrast. Take what looks good from each and combine for your own take.
The Takeaway: Most of this flavor fail falls under the heading: “In a rush and cut corners.” Had I taken a few more minutes and a little more care, this meal wouldn’t have gone all pear-shaped on me. But I will try this dish again, if only because this take was so miserable that I have something to prove. Don’t let the fails get you down, people, get back in the kitchen and do it right!