Real Beef Stroganoff
I’m from the generation that grew up on soup can dinners. Smart marketing departments came up with twists on traditional recipes that took out all the fuss and substituted in a can or two of their delicious Elmer’s-like goop and most of my generation’s parents ate it up.
I guess these dishes are still popular today, but I know that I pretty much grew up eating them. And while they actually taste okay, we can do better. One of the classic dishes where real ingredients get substituted for soup (of the mushroom variety) is beef stroganoff.
Here’s what I don’t get about the substitutions in this case: They really save you no time. Whether you use the can or real ingredients, it takes about the same time to prepare because you still need to cook the beef and the noodles and stuff.
You might save a buck or two, but we’ll completely make up for that in the flavor department.
Real Beef Stroganoff
Yield: Serves 4.
1 1/2 pounds beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut into 1 inch chunks
3 Tablespoons butter
1 large onion, sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (I like cremini)
1/2 Cup chopped canned tomatoes
1 Cup chicken or beef stock
2/3 Cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (opt.)
Salt and pepper
Chopped parsley for garnish (opt.)
1 pound egg noodles
2 Tablespoons butter (or the noodles)
1) Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add beef and let brown well on all sides. This should take 2-3 minutes a side.
2) Add onions and mushrooms to skillet after beef is browned and continue to cook for a few more minutes until veggies are tender. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
3) Add tomatoes, stock, and mustard if you're using mustard. Turn heat down to low and simmer for a few minutes.
4) Finally, stir in sour cream and garnish with some parsley if you want.
5) Cook egg noodles according to package. Drain them and stir in a few tablespoons of butter to coat the noodles.
6) Serve stroganoff over noodles as soon as possible!
Adapted from How To Cook Everything.
As you can see, the ingredient list here is pretty simple. It’s really not a complicated dish. All the soup version does really is substitute some of the mushrooms and the sour cream for a can or two of the goop soup.
There is some chopping involved (onions, mushrooms, beef), but it’s pretty simple work. The mushrooms and onions should be kept in pretty large chunks.
To make the sauce, I used some chicken broth I had in the fridge. I wish I had homemade handy but I’m out of it at the moment. Also, I think if I were going to buy some stock just for this recipe, I would’ve gone with beef stock just to enhance the beef flavor, but this is what I had on hand. You can use either.
Fresh tomatoes would be good, but not in the winter. It’s better to just use canned in my opinion.
And don’t forget the noodles! These are non-negotiable in my opinion for this dish. They do such a perfect job of sopping up all the delicious sauce.
Cooking the Dish
Start to finish this dish took me 30 minutes and some of that time I was futzing around with my camera. I bet you could do it even faster.
When all your ingredients are ready, melt your butter in a sturdy pan over medium-high heat. Once it’s melted and bubbling, add your beef chunks and brown well on all sides. Try not to move the beef too much when doing this.
Cook for a few minutes on each side until the pieces are nicely seared.
Then add the mushrooms and onions to the dish with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir this all together and continue to cook until the veggies are a bit soft.
This will probably take 5 or 6 minutes.
Next, add the tomatoes, stock, and mustard if you’re using it. I recommend the mustard but I left if out for my version because Betsy has a horrible aversion to the stuff.
Turn your heat down to medium and let the whole pot simmer for a few minutes until the beef is nice and tender.
As a final step, stir in the sour cream which will make the whole thing deliciously creamy and thick.
As far as the noodles go, just cook them according to the package in heavily salted water. Once you drain them, add in a few tablespoons of butter and stir it together until the noodles are nicely coated.
The butter is optional but not if you’re eating at my table.
Then pile it high and deep!
Betsy and I both agreed that this version pretty much ruled. It has so much more flavor than the canned situation.
So, ditch the can and go with the real thing. You won’t lose any time and you’ll be happy that you did.