In the countdown to supper, Babe stares down upon us from atop the Ivers & Pond upright, employing the think system to induce us to head for the kitchen and get the cat food into the bowls.
One paw and one thumb up! Baby Cakes loves Beef Stroganoff Lite, the newest recipe to make the cut for our Cold Turkey Cookbook. Tuck claims he couldn't tell the difference between the new version and one of his old favorites, our traditional, butter-and-oil-laced Beef Stroganoff. "This one might be even better," he ventured. We managed to shave off 335 calories --168 per serving -- by substituting a technique we'd stumbled upon in developing Faux Scalloped Potatoes with Mushrooms, a low-calorie variation on another old classic, our cream-and-butter-laden Scalloped Fennel and Potatoes.
Is it love, or is it reduced calories? The latest triumph from our experimental kitchens, Beef Stroganoff Lite, was served upon a bed of noodles with a vegetable medley of leftover baked beets and steamed English cucumbers, Yukon Gold potatoes and snow peas on the side.
Both versions start out the same:
Marinate one or two sirloin tips cut into 1 1/2-inch strips for an hour or so in a mixture of A-1 Sauce, soy sauce and tomato juice.
Chop one large shallot and five large cloves of garlic, and slice eight mushrooms.
Then they go their separate ways. Old cooking method:
Just before cooking, slice beef on the bias into bite-sized pieces.
Heat heavy-duty skillet on high, add 1 tbsp butter and 2 tbsp oil and sauté beef, stirring. Add freshly ground pepper, toss in shallots, garlic and mushrooms and continue cooking over medium heat until done. Add marinade to the pan, cook about a minute and then finish off with a cup of sour cream. Serves two.
New, improved cooking method:
Grill beef on Jenn-Air stove top or other indoor or outdoor grill 10-15 minutes, turning once or twice. When it is done to your liking, season with freshly ground pepper, move to a cutting board and slice on the bias into bite-sized pieces.
Meanwhile, bring a 14.5-oz can of College Inn "Light & Fat Free" chicken broth to a rolling boil in a frying pan, toss in shallots, garlic and mushrooms, cover and cook until liquid is reduced to a thin syrup. Add beef slices to the pan and blend in 4 tbsp sour cream. Serves two.
Update: Subsequent testing reveals a mixture of broth, vermouth and water makes the perfect liquid for cooking shallots, garlic and mushrooms: Sauce Sisu.
Bottom line: Grilling the beef and cooking the veggies in broth rather than fat adds a mere 5 extra calories to the final dish vs a whopping 340 extra calories from cooking the beef and veggies in butter and oil. The amount of beef depends upon the appetites and dietary goals in question. We used one strip for two and had enough to spare when Baby demanded his fair share.
Update: Animal lovers who demand their fair share can fill up on treats at Modulator's Friday Ark #149.
Update II: Teresa explicates the "Eyes-Bigger-than-Stomach Effect" in the comments:
Whenever you are making Chinese stir fry (and I extrapolated to casserole-type dishes) use about 1/4 the meat you "think" you need. [As the teacher of a Chinese cooking class] said (and I agree) Americans use too much meat in dishes where less meat and more vegetables would be much better . . . You get the flavor without all the calories.
Mummy was right: "Eat your vegetables!"