Beef Stroganoff via Time Machine

Set the time machine for 1963, pop the hatch and emerge into a weird parallel world where everyone smokes constantly, fear of meat, dairy, and dietary fat is unheard-of and “fat kids” are an anomaly still worthy of ridicule by peers. Anxiety over Soviet missiles and MAD could only be relieved by smoking, drinking, the antics of “Rocky and Bullwinkle” and escape into the romanticized past of Camelot. ” Dr. Strangelove ” wouldn’t be seen till ’64. Something evil (besides Boris and Natasha) stalks this confounded scene: causing a dramatic rise in coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality in relatively rich, western nations. The evil needed identification and eradication. All was about to be turned upside-down.

Ancel Keys (U of M) had already set the course by then with his graphic association of CHD death rate vs percent of dietary calories from fat for 6 countries. Everyone thought he was onto something and researchers piled-onto the “diet-heart idea”. More cool-headed skeptics found that Keys had cherry-picked the 6 countries from a total of 22 for which data was available. Had he included all 22 the correlation for sugar consumption versus CHD deaths would have been higher than that for total fat.

The zeal of funding institutions and researchers soon took on a religious crusade quality of certitude in direction and outcomes. No one questioning the “diet -heart idea” could get funding or an audience. Investigators manipulated data in ways to present the accepted outcome. Framington (MA) study analysts at year 30 could only find positive news in overall death rates of men (CHD death rates in women had never been shown to be influenced by blood cholesterol level) in the lowest cohort of blood cholesterol being a half-percent less per year than those in the highest. They failed to point out that deaths were not CHD specific OR recognize that for men beyond age 47 survival rate was indifferent of cholesterol level!

So how did we get to today? How did all that momentum and low fat/high carbohydrate diet endorsements get reversed so that it’s now OK again to eat butter, bacon and beef? Reality intervened is what happened. Maverick cardiologist Dr Atkins started recommending the opposite; a high protein/low carb diet that had outstanding success in reversing the CHD symptoms of his patients. Packaged food companies eagerly switched over to cheap refined carbohydrates and sugar in place of expensive fats and -as a result-by the mid 80’s adolescent type 2 diabetes was becoming a problem. Endocrinology- the study of the body’s hormone reactions- came to better understand the roles of insulin and glycogen and the group of symptoms leading up to insulin resistance. Gary Taubes summed it all up in 2002. Since then diet-related autoimmune disorders and the huge role of gut microbes have begun to be understood.

Beware of vegan groups recovering the fallen, soiled banners of this era’s misguided protagonists, laundering them and representing them as underappreciated heroes. They were merely the wrong-headed opportunists of their time. Their endorsement by association lends no legitimacy to the vegan cause.

This is a wonderful, classic recipe. If using sirloin steak or sirloin tip roast be sure to cut to specified size while partially frozen. It’s impossible when completely thawed. The piece size is critical for chew-able texture as there isn’t much cooking time to help tenderize. Spring for fresh Italian parsley and the wide “nested” type egg noodles like Sams Choice Italia Pappardelle. Try a bit of fresh-grated nutmeg on a portion for that distinctive flavor.

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds beef tenderloin or boneless sirloin of beef, trimmed of all exterior fat and cut int 2-by-1/4-by-1/4-inch strips
  • ½ cup (one stick) butter
  • ½ cup finely chopped onion
  • ½ pound mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups beef or chicken stock, ideally homemade
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

PREPARATION

  1. Combine the flour, salt and pepper. Dredge the meat in the mixture.
  2. Brown the meat in one-quarter cup of the butter in a saucepan. Remove meat from the pan and set aside.
  3. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until transparent. Add the mushrooms and remaining butter and sauté 3 to 5 minutes longer.
  4. Add the beef stock or bouillon and bring to a boil. The preparation, to this point, may be done ahead.
  5. Add the meat to the sauce and cook until meat is tender but not overcooked, 3 to 10 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Combine sour cream, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. Add some of the beef sauce to sour cream mixture. Return to pan and heat meat and sauce, stirring. Do not boil. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve with buttered parsley noodles.

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