Flavor Fail: Beef Stroga-not

By on September 2, 2011

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!

  1. Connie

    September 3, 2011

    and here I thought everything you cooked was wonderful. Thanks for the reality check. I feel a lot better about my own cooking now..


  2. Jo

    September 4, 2011

    it’s too hot for beef strog. when winter hits – I’ll try my recipe out on you : )

  3. Fred

    September 4, 2011

    Yes, it is reassuring to see that you can have an off day like the rest of us commoners…

    Since I work at a big corporation, I would like to see a follow-up within two business days please:

    Whose fault was it?
    How many hours of productivity were lost?
    What is the estimated cost in materials and lost revenue?
    Were the clients notified in a timely fashion?
    How many clients were affected?
    How were the clients notified?
    How long were the clients without proper food?
    How quickly was management notified of the problem?
    Was there a proper backup plan in place in case the original meal didn’t work as predicted?
    What steps are being taken to make sure this doesn’t happen again?
    Do we need to put together a committee to draft a document to ensure this won’t happen again?

    Oh yes, and if you have time after filling out all the required paperwork and getting the auditors signatures, the corrected yummy recipe, including spices etc.

  4. Julie

    September 5, 2011

    Been there, done that…bought that shirt…spilled the ruined dish on it. But as you said, can’t let the ‘fails get you down’. “It is better to have loved and lost”…to have succeeded and then failed, to realize what truly is good in life and in the kitchen! Keep inspiring us…

  5. Rich

    September 5, 2011

    Had a similar experience and I think it’s the use of petite filets. It’s very hard to execute this recipe with such a lean/tender cut and get the full flavor. When I did it with filet the flavor was weak and the meat was bordering on dry. Rich

    • GHT

      September 5, 2011

      Maybe with ribeye…

  6. GHT

    September 5, 2011

    Thanks for the comments, all. Sounds like I struck a chord with this post. This isn’t the first dish or the last dish to go south on me, if you are not failing once in a while, you aren’t really trying! I’ll do another fail post soon, I’ve got plenty of material…..

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