Wonderful bottles of wine frequently come knocking on my door. Like last week, when Voor-Paardeberg’s Vondeling Wines dropped in to say hi. In the box? A bottle of their flagship, premium Rhône-style blend, Monsonia. But that wasn’t all. Snuggled up next to this beauty I found an onion, garlic, a lemon, a tin of mushrooms and a tin of cream along with a recipe card for that culinary icon of the 70s, beef stroganoff.
It hasn’t been years since I’ve tasted tinned mushrooms, it’s been decades – as in 1980, I think. Back then, in a small Highveld country town, tinned was the only way you could lay your hands on a mushroom – or asparagus for that matter. But tinned didn’t mean common though. Oh no, tinned mushrooms and asparagus were way fancy, the gourmet stuff you pulled out the pantry for entertaining important people, like the ‘dominee’, the doctor or your new boss.
Super excited about my tinned surprises, I popped over to my local Checkers in search of another icon of the 70s, tenderised steak. As with exotic fresh mushrooms, thick-cut dry aged steak was decades away. Nope, back then steak was thin and bludgeoned into submission with a studded wooden mallet. Always from the less tender, less desirable (but super beefy) parts of a cow, tenderised steak has its place in my kitchen to this day. It’s brilliant for fast, super hot cooking like stir fries, and like this seriously retro stroganoff.
I did tamper with the recipe a smidge. I increased the amount of sauce and I thickened it a bit. Because when it comes to sauce, more is always more. I also added two sachets of Woolies’ mushroom-flavour liquid stock concentrate. It’s a simply fantastic little kitchen helper when one wants anything with mushrooms to be extra ‘mushroomy’.
All you need is…
800g tenderised steak
1 onion, sliced thinly into rings
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs salted butter
1 heaped tbs cake flour
1 cup hot water
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 x 25g mushroom-flavour Woolworths liquid stock concentrate sticks
1 x 400g tin button mushrooms, drained
200ml long-life cream
large bunch flatleaf parsley
rice or tagliatelle, to serve
Cut the steak into thin strips. Heat a thick-based stainless steel or enameled cast iron pan until super hot. Add two tablespoons of vegetable oil and fry a quarter of the steak over very high heat until just done. (Tip: You want serious caramelization as that is where loads of flavour sits, but you don’t want to overcook the steak as it will become tough, hence the extreme heat. When I work with such thin steak, I tumble it in, leave it for a full minute without stirring to get that crusty brown effect going, then stir it just once and out it comes.) Repeat with the rest of the meat in batches, adding a touch more vegetable oil when needed. Set meat aside.
Turn heat right down, and tumble onions and butter into the same pan – you could even do this off the heat if the pan is very hot and holding its heat well. Stir-fry for a minute, then add the garlic and flour. Stir until the flour disappears. Add the water and stir to lift all those gorgeous brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the salt, pepper, stock concentrate and mushrooms, place lid on and cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes until onions are soft.
Make the sour cream while the stroganoff is cooking. Simply stir the juice of half a lemon into the cream and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir sour cream into the stroganoff. Add the steak strips along with any resting juices, taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed. Just before serving, squeeze over the other lemon half and scatter liberally with chopped parsley.
ABOUT VONDELING MONSONIA
Vondeling is dedicated to the protection of rare species of fynbos indigenous to the Paardeberg Mountain area. Their Rhône-style blend, Monsonia, pays tribute to one of the highly endangered flowers grown here, Monsonia Speciosa, aka Sambreeltjie (little umbrella) or Slangblom (snake flower). Their 2017 Monsonia blend is made up of 67% Shiraz, 21% Mourvédre, 8% Carignan and 4% Grenache.
There are six different Shiraz clones on Vondeling, and only the finest make it into a bottle of Monsonia. The wine is aged in a combination of first, second and third fill French oak for 16 months before final barrel selection, blending and bottling. Monsonia is a heavy-hitting, complex beauty. The kind of wine you keep for special occasions and seriously good food – red meat naturally. On the nose you’ll spot some violet and dark fruit along with nutmeg, coriander and clove spice. On the palate expect red berry fruits, chocolaty richness and subtle wild herb.
Monsonia is available from Vondeling (at R215 per bottle) and at specialist retail outlets countrywide.