Monday, March 16, 2015

Where's the Beef?

When I was young, my go-to recipe for company was Beef Stroganoff. The recipe I used is long gone and I haven't made it in years. As I recall, I used stew meat, and it simmered for a while. We've had such a cold winter that I thought it might be fun to make it again.

I went online, assuming my old recipe would pop up, and I would recognize it. But to my surprise, Beef Stroganoff has morphed into a quick weeknight dinner. No long simmering at all! How very odd. In fact, as I read, I learned that most people were using very nice cuts of steak to make it. Obviously, if you're not going to cook the meat for a long time, a better cut will be more tender. But in the recipes, they sliced the meat and cooked the slices. Gee, I thought, why would you do that to a good cut of beef? That would just dry it out and make it more tough. Why wouldn't you cook the steak separately and then slice it and add it at the last minute?

I had vague memories of using Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and paprika, and oddly enough, chicken broth. But most of the recipes I saw used beef broth. More traditional, perhaps, but I was tempted to use chicken broth. That had something to do with the fact that I had just made a big vat of the stuff.

And then I stumbled upon the most fascinating recipe of all. I did not follow the recipe, but found it fascinating, so I'm going to mention it here. It's by J. Kenji López-Alt at Serious Eats. I liked it because a real chef confirmed my notion of cooking the steak whole and then slicing it. And he used chicken broth! Score! But he also did two things I did not do. Some of you may be tempted to try. He used gelatin to thicken his sauce, and used Asian fish sauce as a flavoring.

So, armed with the knowledge that I might have been onto something by cooking the steaks whole, I went to work. I used tenderloins. They were a fairly thick cut, so I browned them on both sides and finished them in the oven. Feel free to cook them your favorite way. I used a full pound but that's really not necessary unless meat is your thing. It was way too much meat.

The main thing I might do differently next time is add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of cornstarch to the cream before adding the chicken broth. The sauce could have been just a little bit thicker. I thought simmering it uncovered would thicken it but it didn't get as thick as I'd have liked. Simmering it uncovered did enhance the flavor, though, so don't skip that step.

I have to mention that this would be a great way to use leftover steak. Just throw a couple extra steaks on the grill and make Stroganoff a day or two later. Add the cold sliced meat at the very last moment, so the sauce warms it but doesn't cook it.

Beef Stroganoff

1/2 to 3/4 pound beef tenderloin
2-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 pound mushrooms, (I used white, cremini would probably be fine, too)
1 good sized shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon prepared mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 scant teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup heavy cream or sour cream
1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper
egg noodles

Preheat oven to 400. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and brown the steaks on both sides. Finish in hot oven for about 5 minutes. Remove to a plate and let rest.

Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms and mince the shallots. Heat 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and the butter in a large pan and saute the mushrooms and shallots. When cooked, add the white wine, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and paprika. (If using 1/2 teaspoon corn starch, whisk into the cream now.) Heat the chicken broth and whisk as you pour it slowly into the cream. Add the mixture to the mushrooms, bring to a boil and immediately turn down. Simmer uncovered for four to five minutes. Slice the steak, and add any juices to the simmering sauce.

Cook the egg noodles according to directions. If adding the meat to the sauce, do it just before serving. Salt and pepper to taste.

You can serve this one of two ways.

1. Place a serving of noodles on a plate. Mix the beef with the sauce and ladle over the noodles.

2. Place a serving of noodles on a plate. Lay strips of beef on top of the noodles. Ladle the mushroom sauce over top.

Cook the steaks.
Saute mushrooms with shallots.
Whisk hot chicken broth into the cream very slowly so it doesn't curdle.
Add the seasonings and simmer, uncovered.
Slice the beef.

Tender beef and delicious sauce!



  1. This one my mom used & I do occasionally - Slow-Cooker Beef Stroganoff
    Stroganoff, once only weekend special can now be served weeknights thanks to slow cooking.

    Prep Time 15 min Total Time 8 hr 15 min Servings 8

    2 pounds beef stew meat
    1 cup chopped onion
    1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed golden mushroom soup
    1 can (10 3/4 ounces) condensed cream of onion soup
    1 jar (6 ounces) Green Giant™ sliced mushrooms, drained
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, cubed
    1 container (8 ounces) sour cream
    6 cups hot cooked noodles or rice

    1In 3 1/2- to 4 1/2-quart slow cooker, mix beef, onion, soups, mushrooms and pepper.
    2Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours or until beef is very tender.
    3Stir cream cheese into beef mixture until melted. Stir sour cream into beef mixture. Serve over noodles.
    Expert Tips
    Save time and tears. Use prechopped onions found in the freezer case of your supermarket. Thaw before adding.

    1. Cream cheese! Isn't that interesting? I've never seen it made with cream cheese before. Thanks for sharing this, Linda!

  2. Sausage Stroganoff was one of my go-to quick and easy dishes in my starving student days, but this sounds much more elegant. I'll have to try it!

    1. Sausage Stroganoff! LOL! I guess mushrooms are the important part and go well with almost any meat.

  3. The American Test Kitchens have mentioned that using chicken broth gives a better flavor than beef broth. And I'm sure using homemade is wildly better!

    This looks like it taste divine.

    1. We loved it! Curious that chicken broth would add more flavor. I'll have to look that up!

  4. I love this recipe, Krista. It's especially nice because of the color. The last time I made Beef Strog, all the photos were very gray.



    1. You know, I hadn't thought about that. My old recipe was very gray indeed.

  5. Very nice recipe, Krista, and yes, we use chicken broth in many beef and lamb dishes. Marc insists it's just tradition—back in the day his family got the notion (true or not) that beef broth contained too much salt, so they used chicken broth for everything.

    ~ Cleo

    1. It's fascinating how beliefs like too much sodium in beef broth can change the way we cook. I must say the chicken broth worked just fine.

  6. The recipe from my mom uses sirloin steak cut into pieces, browned and then simmered in beef broth for at least an hour, (can't remember off the top of my head), always used an electric fry pan and added sour cream at the end. yum! and used flour to thicken the gravy

    1. This recipe was definitely missing the flour. Your mother's version sounds much like the way I used to make Beef Stroganoff.

  7. Yum! Stroganoff is one of my favorite meals, but I've never had it like this. I've always made mine with ground beef, mushrooms, sour cream, onions & garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and cream of mushroom soup. I think our family recipe was created for ease, speed, and flavor. :)

    1. I think a lot of recipes change over time, especially to make them faster and easier to prepare. I bet your version tastes great!