Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Beef Stroganoff Can Be Gluten and Dairy Free and Still Taste Good

Cooking is not difficult. Everyone has taste, even if they don't realize it. Even if you're not a great chef, there's nothing to stop you understanding the difference between what tastes good and what doesn't. –Gérard Depardieu

I fought it for a really long time. I did not want to give up gluten — in essence, my daily bread. I was tested for Celiac and it came back negative. I gave up dairy almost a year-and-a-half ago, which was really, really hard. It was hard enough eating diary free without adding gluten to the mix so I stubbornly stuck to my gluten-laden diet because I don't have Celiac disease. I was convinced that it wouldn't help. I couldn't have been more wrong. I was eating myself sick. Within 3 days of giving up gluten, I felt better than I had in months. It's been a little over two months now and I feel like a normal person again. I can't believe what a huge difference it has made.

Coming up with menus that aren't monotonous is difficult. And living dairy and gluten free limits what you can make but necessitates cooking almost every day. Very few restaurants cater to special diets. You can only eat so many salads with vinaigrette dressing without getting bored. And there are cross-contamination issues, as well, when eating out. This week, I felt like I was out of ideas, so I rummaged around on Pinterest and found a few things I'd pinned a while ago and decided to give them a try. First up, was the most amazing Black-Eyed Pea Curry from Mel over at Mel's Kitchen Cafe. Her recipes use mostly fresh ingredients, so it is easy to substitute if necessary. This curry called for half-and-half, but I used canned coconut milk instead, added cauliflower as suggested in her notes but not included in the recipe and omitted the cilantro because I'm not a big fan. After tasting it, I could see how the cilantro would have complimented the flavors, so if you like it, I'd say go for it. As it was, I thought it was heaven on a plate. We will definitely be having more curry around here in the future.

Mel also has this casserole {she calls it a hot dish} that I've been romancing for the past year or so. It is an upscale version of one of my favorite casseroles. Mine uses cream of mushroom and cream of chicken soups and plain white rice, with a splash of soy sauce, some hamburger, onions and garlic and chow mein noodles on top. Hers uses butter, flour, milk and spices to flavor wild rice. The first time I made it, I used a wild rice blend, butter substitute and almond milk and halved the recipe but otherwise followed it exactly. The rice came out crunchy and under done, and it was all burned to the bottom of the pan. The second time I tried it, I made the same changes as before but I tried cooked the rice half-way by using only half the water and half the time, hoping that the time in the oven as part of the casserole would finish cooking it all the way. It was an epic fail. For some reason, it was too salty. Way too salty {operator error, I'm guessing} and the rice still wasn't done.

Several months ago, I gave it one more try. I still used half the amount of rice and still did a wild rice blend, but I cooked it all the way before putting it into the casserole. I also used the full amount for the sauce ingredients {subbing in dairy-free only; I was still in denial about being gluten intolerant} and added in a tablespoon of soy sauce. It was spot on. I was going to make this recipe last week, but I was still recovering from surgery, so it got bumped to this week's menu. As chance would have it, we had a leftover steak that Mr. Bug had grilled up for us on Friday night, so I decided to use it to make beef stroganoff night before last or as close to it as you can get without using dairy or gluten. I used the sauce recipe from Mel's casserole, modified slightly, and I thought it was pretty tasty. Without dairy, it isn't exact, but it is pretty darn close so I thought I'd share.

Beef Stroganoff
½ to 1 lb. beef (leftover roast beef, stew meat, steak – raw or left over), cut to bite size pieces
2 tablespoons butter substitute or olive oil
1 small onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
8 oz. mushrooms, diced
¼ cup corn starch
1½ cups beef broth
¾ cup rice milk (or 1 cup almond milk)
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon celery salt
¼ teaspoon onion salt
¼ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

8 oz. gluten-free pasta

• Cook pasta according to package directions. Do not drain until ready to serve.
• In a 10” skillet, brown the beef on medium high heat until juices caramelize on the bottom of the pan {works with both leftover and raw meat}. If your pan is non-stick, you don't need to add any oil, but if it is a regular pan, add a little olive oil to keep the meat from sticking. Transfer the meat to a plate and cover with foil.
• Return the skillet to the stove and add butter substitute or olive oil and melt over medium heat. Add onions, garlic and mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 to 7 minutes until the onions are translucent and most of the liquid has evaporated from the mushrooms. Sprinkle the corn starch over the vegetables and stir to combine. Continue stirring and cook the mixture for about 1 minute.
• Slowly whisk the broth and milk into the skillet. Add the salt, celery salt, onion salt, garlic salt and pepper and stir to combine.
• Return the meat, with any juices that might have accumulated, back to the skillet and bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes.
• Serve over hot pasta.
Serves 4

• I used Heartland Fusilli pasta. It was excellent. You can find it on the regular pasta aisle at Wal-Mart.
• Rice milk doesn’t thicken as much as almond milk, but I’m sensitive to almonds, so I use rice milk. Also, for some reason, sauces and gravies made with corn starch lose their “thickness” when you refrigerate them, so leftovers will have runny sauce, but it still tastes good.
• My favorite butter substitute is Earth Balance. They have the original in Wal-Mart, but I go to a health food store to find the kind made with olive oil because I like it better.
• The amount of meat doesn’t have to be exact. This is a great recipe to use up leftover roast or steak, but you can buy a steak or stew meat if you don’t have leftovers. Stew meat tends to be a little bit tougher, though.


Paulette said...

When I was growing up and there was a potluck, you brought a hot dish (pronounced like it's one two-syllable word with the accent on the first syllable: 'HOTdish, meaning casserole, not the temperature of the receptacle). When you said "hot dish" I predicted Mel would be from MN or WI. I think mostly the older generation still says hot dish for casserole around here.

Anyway, the curry sounds great and so does your stroganoff recipe. Definitely going to try those.

Jill said...

It all sounds so frustrating. I think I'd just give up eating all together. I'm glad you're finding things that work, though.