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Sunday, October 23, 2016

To Russia with Love from my stroganoff Heart – chicken Stroganoff

Comforting Chicken Stroganoff with mushrooms n home-made crème fraiche n egg noodles- a fantastic versatile recipe from Russia

“The knife was going through the mushrooms effortlessly, every time the knife hit the worn out wooden piece of wood it gave off a comforting sound, other than that sound there was silence in the room and her n him-Nikolai Ivanich-a curly headed young fellow with shiny forehead with fine wrinkles. The faint sunlight coming through the window glass bounced off the table where his hands rest and got reflected by the shiny blade of the knife that she was handling n hit the wooden ceiling, he wondered if Sofia has found rhythm in the kitchen, it is the first time he is visiting this cousin of his after that life changing incident, Sofia Alexandrovna  doesn’t look around as she peels the onions, she seems peaceful n in tune with herself, it is hard to describe looking at her now how her life was 6 months back, she is thin n tall with a worn out grace, taller than most of the ladies around her n she is wise, partly made by herself, party by life. As he kept looking around the room, the smell from the pan filled up the wooden room, he knew what coming- stroganoff” 

This could have been a story from a Russian book n I am sure I have read such a piece while I was growing up, my childhood was packed with books from Russia, back then in the eighties there were huge number of books by Russian authors were present in India, every week my father would get us a few new books on his way back from office and it was a blast of joy every time he did that, I was utterly in love with books n the fantastic illustrations that were hidden in those books- they enriched my imagination as my father would read from those books at times or as I will read them single mindedly in the afternoons after school.  Even though now I don’t read books so frequently, a part of me will always belong there; a part of it will always love those tales from Russia.

Stroganoff is a proper comfort food, easy to cook; it thrives on simple few ingredients, it originates from Russia and then spread across the world n won hearts.  Now it is popular all over the world and as with every country the recipes changes with time n place, it is popular in Brazil, in Japan, in China, the UK, and Australia…so literally all over the globe. You can serve it with rice or flat egg noodles, sometimes potato straws are served along with it which will be so exciting I can imagine, I think the Parsi n Bengali people will love it since they love potatoes with meat.

One of the important ingredient is Crème fraiche- this is rich and it is bacterial cultured, it has tang n certain kind of nuttiness which comes from the culture, crème fraiche has about 10-45% butterfat, it is made by introducing the bacterial culture to heavy cream, you can make it at home like I did, it’s simple n very rewarding, all you need is buttermilk which has those bacteria or a good yogurt and after 2 days you will have your own crème fraiche. You can use sour cream if you don’t have it but sour cream doesn’t have that nuttiness that crème fraiche has, but still you can use it.

Another important ingredient is a good stock which will provide the depth of flavor, so before you start to make stroganoff make sure you have some good chicken stock ready or stock cubes. In my recipe I have used white wine but it’s not mandatory, you can simply skip it. I decided to use chicken thigh because they are most tasty n I love their texture, however chicken breast is utterly fine n will cook even quickly.

The day I made the chicken stroganoff I tasted it with rice n it was so delicious, the next day I tried it with egg noodles-the noodles I made that morning myself,  when you serve the stroganoff with warm buttered egg noodles it makes you so very happy.  You can have them with toasted pieces of buttered bread too...Do what you feel like.

So now I will take you to the recipe.

For The Recipe:  You will need

For the Stroganoff:
Chicken thighs – 250-350 gm, deboned n cut into 2 inch pieces
Button mushroom- 250 gm, cut into ¼ inch thick slices
Red onion- 1 medium, cut into medium slices
Garlic- 2/3 medium cloves, grated
Flour- 1 tbsp
White wine- 4-5 tbsp
Chicken stock- 1 ½-2 cups
White vegetable oil- 2-3 tbsp
Butter- 1 tbsp
Crème fraiche- 2-3 tbsp
Black pepper
Flat leaf parsley- 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves-1 tbsp

For the egg Noodles:
All purpose flour- 1 ½ cup
Eggs- 2
Water- 1/8 cup about, it varies
Butter – ½ tbsp, melted

1. Start by making the pieces of the chicken n drying them slightly with a paper towel, sprinkle them with salt n pepper, heat 2/3 tbsp of white oil in a pan over medium heat and add the chicken pieces, don’t add too many pieces n crowd the pan, work in 2 batches if the pan is small, when one side gets  brown color flip them n color other side too, when done remove from the pan, add the butter to the same pan and add the sliced onion n mushrooms together, let the heat be medium and toss them in between as they get brown all over, when the mushroom n onions are golden brown to brown, add the grated garlic n put the heat to low and give it 2 minutes. Add the flour and toss it and give it another 2 minutes, then add the white wine and deglaze the pan, when the pan is almost deglazed after a minute or so, add the chicken stock and let the whole thing come to a simmer, then add the chicken pieces back in the pan mix well, let it come to simmer again n taste n adjust the seasoning, cover it with a lid and give it about 20 minutes, the chicken will be tender in 20 minutes. After the time check if the chicken is done and the sauce should have thickened, if you want the sauce thinner add some more stock or water, if you want it more dry you have to give it more time on the fire, so now it is time to finish, add a big dollop of crème fraiche to the pan and mix well and put off the flame, taste n adjust the seasoning one more time, then sprinkle the fresh herbs all over n give it 5 minutes standing time.
2. For preparing the egg noodles from scratch, take the flour in a bowl and make a well in it, break the eggs in a small bowl and add the melted butter and whisk the eggs until uniform, then pour it in the flour well, add salt, don’t add less salt, add enough salt to bring out the flavor of the eggs, then start mixing the flour with the eggs gradually, when all the flour has gone into a lump n add a little water and make it come together, the dough should not be very soft nor very tight, it will be medium, so adjust the water accordingly, don’t add too much water in the beginning, work on the dough, if the dough is too tight add some water, work again, if it still needs then add some more. Now you need to knead the dough for about 7-10 minutes and it will be smooth n elastic. Cover n rest the dough for an hour to 30 minutes.
Prepare the flat working surface by sprinkling flour all over it, tap the dough out , divide in 2 equal parts and shape each one into a flat round and with a floured rolling pin n floured hand tap one round and start rolling uniformly in all directions until it becomes a big circle, work with light hands as the dough gets thinner, make it a circle of about 12- 15 inches in diameter, you will be able to see though lightly through the dough, with a sharp knife or pizza cutter cut the noodles into long strips of about ½ inch-1/4 inch broad, this is a work of patience, when you have finished making the noodles like this give them about 30 minutes to rest, separate the noodles you will cook for now, for the rest sprinkle flour all over them  n toss them with light hands in that flour, then you can store them in the freeze wrapped in a plastic bag for 3-4 days.
3. Boil some water in a bowl, salt the water, then put the egg noodle into the boiling water, fresh noodles cook very quickly, so give them about 2-4 minutes, check after 2/3 minutes by lifting one up, they should still have a little bite n not completely soft, at this stage drain the water n pour cold water over the noodles, then drain the water n sprinkle a little oil all over them, so they won’t stick to each other, melt some butter in a pan and pour the butter over the noodles along with some black pepper when you are going to serve them.

So the chicken stroganoff is  all ready waiting for you and now we must taste, dip the spoon get some sauce along with piece of mushroom with the chicken n put that whole thing into your mouth. Woaah!!...so rich n delish! You can’t just eat it on its own and forget about anything else but I think crispy potato straws will be heavenly.  Bon appétit.