Restaurant Dinner at Home

ZiZ and I have eaten out a few times over the last couple weeks (see: illness and getting treated for, rather hard work in the garden, etc.). Last night I had some penne (not the best thing for my maybe-wheat-allergy, but the sauce sounded so good) that turned out to be exactly what I was craving, with beef, mushrooms, and a rich creamy sauce described inadequately on the menu as “rosemary cream.” Plus, on an earlier outing, I’d had some cheese grits that were also super yummy. So tonight, I put together my own version of the two dishes, with the added benefit that ZiZ was craving stroganoff and is always a polenta/grits fan. Thus we have dubbed this meal “stroganon” (yes we are dorks).

Total Time: About 90 minutes, with just enough inactive time to make and eat not-bruschetta.
Serves a whole bunch of people, probably 6-8.


For the beefy stuff

All proportions here are pretty much to your taste. There’s no reason to measure anything in this dish, really.

  • A pile of beef; something on the fairly-tender end of “stew” meat is a good place to be. I used tri-tip steaks, which turned out great. I used 3 steaks, for probably a bit under 2 lbs.
  • Mushrooms, ideally both fresh and dried. I had dried porcinis and fresh crimini (aka baby bella) mushrooms. About ¼ cup dried and maybe 12ish ounces fresh is what I used.
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Garlic (I used around 5 cloves)
  • Onion (I used half)
  • Fresh rosemary (5 sprigs, for me)
  • White wine
  • Heavy cream
  • (Optional) Tapioca or potato starch

For the polenta

Use any container you like to measure. You’ll be making right about 4x that much polenta, cooked.

  • 1x whatever container raw polenta/grits/coarsely ground corn meal (they’re all the same thing). Measure this first and then pour it out into a bowl so your container is dry.
  • 4x your container liquid. You can use more or less anything, half water and half heavy cream will give you a rich final product, so I recommend that.
  • Salt
  • Parmesan cheese, to taste.

For sauteed spinach

  • Spinach
  • Some liquid, water, cream, or whatever you happen to have handy


  • Stove with at least 2 burners
  • 3 pans: one large enough to hold all your beef and mushrooms, uncooked. One large enough to hold your polenta container five times over and still be possible to stir. One saute or frying pan for some spinach.
  • Knife and cutting board
  • Plates and/or bowls for chopped ingredients
  • Whisk, and a couple of spoons you can use in your pans
  • Cheese grater, for parmesan. I like to use a microplane


  1. Prep ingredients.
    Turn the beef into short, bite-size strips (with tri-tip steak, you just need to slice across the width of the steak at about ⅛ inch intervals). Slice the fresh mushrooms. Pour hot water over the dried mushrooms, at least to cover. Chop onions and garlic (to whatever size you want to eat them).
  2. Put the polenta liquid in a pan and bring to a boil.
  3. While you wait for boiling, take the dried mushrooms out of the water (save the water) and give them a coarse chop. You can toss them in with the fresh mushrooms.
  4. Once the polenta liquid is boiling, pour the measured corn meal in slowly, whisking constantly or you’ll get lumps. Bring the liquid back to a boil and then turn the heat to low. Cover, and plan to stir about once every 10 minutes for the next 30 minutes. This pan is done when there is no more liquid visible when you stir.
  5. Heat a pat of butter in another pan over high heat. When the butter is melted and starting to brown, add the beef slices. Brown the beef slices by leaving them alone, then stirring about once a minute to expose all surfaces to the hot pan.
  6. When the beef is more or less browned on all sides, add the mushrooms and turn the heat down to medium. Add a large pinch of salt, give everything a stir, and leave it alone for about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Hungry? Now is a good time to make a quick appetizer of some not-bruschetta!
  8. The beef and mushrooms should be cooked down and nearly but not entirely dry. Add the onions, garlic, and rosemary to the pan, stir again, and wander away for another 5 minutes (now eat your appetizer).
  9. At this point the pan should be quite dry, with browned bits on the bottom. Deglaze with some white wine and the reserved mushroom liquid. Add heavy cream until the sauce is the color you desire, and turn the heat back up to high. Bring things to a nice rolling boil.
  10. Around now the polenta should be done. Move to a warming burner if you have one, or just off the stove if not. Toss some spinach in a saute pan on your now-free burner and turn the heat to medium. Add a splash of whatever liquid you have handy, and stir once every 3-5 minutes until the spinach is nicely wilted.
  11. Boil the beefy goodness until it has thickened. Not thickening as much/fast as you want? Mix some tapioca or potato starch with water and then pour in to the boiling pan. Both starches thicken on contact, so you can add slowly until you get to the point you want.
  12. Add a couple huge pinches of salt to the polenta (seriously that stuff is practically impossible to oversalt. But taste if you’re worried). Grate parmesan over the polenta until you have as much as you want, and stir in to melt.
  13. Everything is done! Eat and enjoy!

The Carnage

Pretty much everything on the equipment list needs to be washed (in my case, even the stove, since I tend to get parmesan everywhere while grating). That’s 3 pans, knife and board, plus assorted plates/bowls/utensils. Around 40 minutes of dishes, since 2 of the pans are pretty sticky.

One thought on “Restaurant Dinner at Home

  1. Pingback: Lunch Today (03/22/2012) | Tinteán

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