Red Beef Stew with Mushrooms

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Here is a recipe from The Art of Russian Cuisine by Anne Volokh that became one of my favorite meat dishes. We can call it the meat version of the Fish in Tomato Sauce posted earler. The combination of smooth sauce, earthy mushrooms, and tender browned beef is hard to resist. The Russian name for it is “podzharka”, which is an old word meaning “something fried”. From this, we can guess that the inventor of this recipe considered browning the meat an essential step that gave the meat its flavor. The preparation involves two frying pans, a smaller one and a larger one (preferably deep).

Ingredients

1 lb beef (any cut suitable for stewing)
1 large carrot
1 onion
½ lb mushrooms
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
½ cup beef broth (preferable) or water
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoons flour
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
Handful of parsley or cilantro, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of sugar
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hr 10 minutes
Makes 4-5 servings

Prepare the ingredients:

  • Slice an onion into half-rings
  • Coarsely grate the carrot
  • Slice the mushrooms
  • Cut the beef into cubes of about 2″ on the side
  • Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper
  • Pound the beef cubes with a meat hammer until they are slightly flattened
In a deep frying pan:
  • Saute onion and carrot until onion starts to turn golden-brown, about 10 minutes
  • Add sliced mushrooms, flour, bay leaves, tomato sauce, broth or water, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add a pinch of sugar. Simmer on low heat.
In another frying pan:
  • Cover the bottom with a thin layer of vegetable oil
  • Heat the oil for 2-3 minutes until it starts to shimmer
  • Place the beef in hot oil and fry until the surface is browned, about 3 minutes per side

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Back to the deep frying pan:
  • Place the browned meat into frying pan with the sauce
  • Simmer for 45-50 minutes, until the meat is easily pierced with a fork
  • Add garlic and parsley or cilantro about 10 minutes prior to shutting off the heat

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