Monday, January 24, 2011

mailbag: beef stroganoff

Hi Lisa! 
I've started up home cooking again. It is the winter...perfect for staying in and making the apartment warm by cooking! I was wondering what your take on a beef Stroganoff would be? I've cooked it recently for my boyfriend. Granted it turned out pretty good, I was not very satisfied with beef chuck I went with (instead of the recommended tenderloin)...and the sauce could've been saucier. Since I haven't come across that recipe on your site, I thought it'd be interesting to see your experience with it.
I love old fashioned recipes, but before getting Rosie's email I hadn't given much thought to beef Stroganoff. I must have eaten it at some point during my life, but I couldn't remember when. Which seemed like a shame, because what could be better on a chilly night than a bowl of egg noodles topped with sauteed beef and a creamy mushroom sauce? It's winter eating at its finest. And perfect dinner party fare if you're in the mood for something retro.

Although we tend to associate beef Stroganoff with TV dinners and the the 1950s, most food historians believe the dish got its name from Count Stroganoff, a food-loving Russian noble from the 19th century. While there are many variations of this recipe (one of the earliest iterations calls for something called Sareptskaja mustard and tomato paste) I wanted something fairly simple so I turned to the Joy of Cooking, which reportedly published the recipe back in 1943.
In Joy's version, you saute beef slices with onions for flavor, then discard the onions before you make the sauce, a mix of roux-thickened beef stock, sour cream, and Dijon mustard. There are no mushrooms in Joy's recipe. Instead, they suggest serving them sauteed, as a side dish. I liked the idea of onions and mushrooms in the sauce, so I added them back in. Apologies, Count.

The whole thing came together in under an hour, resulting in a filling and tasty dinner that actually felt quite fresh, to my surprise. Classic recipes are easy to dismiss for what's new and popular right now. What was once a country's national dish can be reduced to a microwavable meal centuries later. But just because something sounds dated doesn't mean it isn't delicious. A recipe is a recipe. When you make an old-fashioned dish from scratch and with care, you can see why it was popular in the first place.

Beef Stroganoff
Adapted slightly from the Joy of Cooking. I served this with a side of sauteed Swiss chard and roasted carrots.
(Serves 4 to 6 people)

1 1/2 lbs. beef tenderloin, top loin, or sirloin tip (I used sirloin), well trimmed
3 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
1 cup beef stock, heated to a simmer
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sliced button (or baby portobella) mushrooms
3 Tbsp. sour cream
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and pepper
12 oz. egg noodles
chopped parsley, for garnish

Cut the meat into thin 2-inch strips and season with salt and pepper. Set aside. 
In a small saucepan, melt 1 1/2 Tbsp. of butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the flour and stir with a whisk until it is combined, and not lumpy. Add the warmed beef stock and whisk until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes. Set the sauce aside and keep warm.

In a large skillet (I used a cast-iron pan), heat 2 Tbsp. butter over medium-high heat. When melted, add the beef. Cook on both sides until the meat is evenly browned, but still pink in the center. (Using tongs helps expedite this process.) When the meat is cooked, remove it from the pan and set it aside on a plate. Cover the plate with foil to keep the meat warm.
Add the onions and mushrooms to the still-hot pan, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Saute until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are tender. 

Return the sauce to medium heat and stir in the sour cream, mustard, and add salt and pepper to taste. Pour in any accumulated juices from the beef. Stir until smooth.
Add the meat to the skillet with the mushrooms and onions, then add the sauce. Stir everything together, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Spoon the sauce and meat over hot cooked egg noodles and sprinkle with parsley, if desired.


Janet said...

I have a similar recipe for Beef Stroganoff where the onions and mushrooms are included in the final sauce. The only additional I have is adding about 4 oz of Gherkins. The nice small garlicky ones. It adds a bit of sour which compliments the sour cream and mustard favours.

Lisa said...

Janet: Gherkins! I would have never thought of adding them, but I think I might love that.

rosiiieee said...

Lisa! Thank you so much for trying of the Strangoff recipe! After reading this entry, I think I will definitely give it a try again :)

Lisa said...

Rosie: Yay! I hope this recipe is more successful than the first. (Maybe try it with tenderloin?)

Daniel said...

Where do you think Count Stroganoff ranks in the pantheon of food royalty? After the Earl of Sandwich, for sure. And Count Chocula.

Unknown said...

I like the mailbag feature. Gherkins in stroganoff? Wow.

lil miss dubin said...

How random. In the same night I totally randomly decided to make veggie-beef stroganoff for the first time ever, I also happened to click through to your blog for the first time in quite a while. And what do I see?

Tonight, I used an incredibly easy recipe and substituted veggie crumbles for the meat. I made the whole thing in the slow cooker, and at the very end threw in a dallop of light sour cream. It was better before that add. Pretty low brow vegetarian dish, but tasty and hearty for a wintry 75-degree L.A. day.

Lisa said...

Daniel: I pledge my allegiance to Count Chocula.

Tender Branson: Thank you! Send me questions :)

Lil Miss Dubin: Ha! That is so random. Glad you clicked over, though. I bet this would be really good with veggie meat, or regular ground beef.

Lamb Shank Recipe said...

You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for new recipes and found most individuals will go along with your website.


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