Fit for a Tsar
When I forget to take something out of the freezer for dinner until high noon, I have to rummage through the freezer drawers looking for something thin that will defrost in time.
Such was my dilemma yesterday when I found a fairly thinly sliced lamb loin steak in the freezer and stuck it in the microwave to thaw (I don't use the microwave to thaw things - it's just high enough to keep the neighbor's tall and dishonorable dog from stealing our dinner when I leave the front door open). With some leftover tzatziki in the fridge, I thought perhaps I could fashion a reasonable facsimile of stroganoff from those two ingredients plus a few more.
Such as mushrooms - a full pound of mushrooms. And alliums (allia?) - green garlic, regular garlic and onion. Some red wine. A little cream. The fresh dill and mint were already in my tzatziki. S & P. It all sounded pretty good.
The ticket with stroganoff is to quickly and fiercely sear the meat so it's richly browned on the outside but still pink on the inside; heat the pan really well, add the butter quickly and caramelize the meat as fast as you can. Then, remove it to a plate and continue sautéeing in the same pan, but at somewhat safer heat, the mushrooms and the allia. Deglaze with the wine, add the tzatziki and the cream, and heat gently to blend the flavors. Add the meat back in, plus any accumulated juices on the plate, and stir. It's even better if you can turn it off and let it rest for a few hours before gently reheating but it's pretty darn good even without that step.
Is it fit for a Tsar? Depends on how you view them. If you think of them as people of exquisite taste, uncountable wealth and opulent refinement, probably not. If you think of them as despotic overlords extracting their riches from the misery of their people and deserving of revolution, it's probably too good for them. Somewhere in between.
1/2 pound cubed lamb loin
3 Tablespoons butter
2 stalks green garlic, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound mushrooms, cut into chunks
1 white onion, sliced in wedges from root to stem end
a splash of red wine
1-1/2 cups leftover tzatziki*
a splash of heavy cream
Serve over rice or wide egg noodles.
*If you don't happen to have leftover tzatziki, I'd try using the ingredients in whatever proportions you like - Greek yogurt, cucumber, garlic, dill, mint, pepper.