May 14, 2013

Beef Stroganoff

One of the dishes my mom made often when I was a kid was beef stroganoff.  I never liked it, and to be honest I still don't.  When I was the cook at my son's elementary school I had to make it once in a while, and that's when I realized this was a dish I was probably not ever going to like.  Don't get me wrong - I don't hate it.  I can eat it if I have to, but I would prefer not to. 

Since it's not a dish I like, I have never made it at home for my family.  Then a few weeks ago my son came home from school and said he had it for lunch that day at school and really liked it.  That prompted my husband to say how much he's always liked it as well.  I filed that info away in the back of my memory. This week when I needed to make them a different dinner than what I was having (because I am on a very restricted diet right now) I remembered how much they both said they like beef stroganoff.  

I looked in my Cook's Illustrated cookbook and sure enough there was a recipe for it, so I decided to make it for them.  Cook's Illustrated uses cut pieces of beef (which is how I had it as a kid), but both my husband and son said they way they've had it was with ground beef.  I choose to make it using the pieces of beef, and since it was a Cook's Illustrated recipe I figured it would impress these guys and they'd love it even more than any other version they've ever had.  It didn't quite work out that way.  They both liked it, but they both said it didn't taste like what they were used to.  My husband said it tasted like veal marsala, and I'm guessing that's because this recipe uses white wine.  I gave the sauce a taste and thought it was pretty good (better than I remember it being when I ate it as a kid).  The recipe shown here reflects my reduction of the white wine and a couple of other changes, but I you could leave it out the wine altogether if you want to.  Overall this is a great recipe - it's just more of a gourmet version of beef stroganoff.  Personally, I think it's a big improvement and much better than I remember it being!

Beef Stoganoff (adapted from Cook's Illustrated)

1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
12 oz white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced thickly
3/4 beef tenderloin or sirloin, cut into 1/2" long 1/4" wide strips
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup onion, minced
1 tsp tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1/4 white wine  
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup sour cream
8 oz egg noodles, cooked & drained and tossed with 1-2 tbsp butter

Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet (I used a 12" cast iron skillet) over med-high heat.  Add the mushrooms and cook without stirring for 30 seconds.  Season with salt & pepper and continue to cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

Add the remaining oil to the skillet, and heat for 1-2 minutes.  Place the beef into skillet in a single layer, and cook until browned on one side, about 2 minutes.  Turn beef over and cook on second side until browned, about another minute. Season with salt & pepper and transfer to bowl with mushrooms.  

Melt butter in skillet, then add the onion, tomato paste and brown sugar. Cook, stirring often, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add the flour and stir until well incorporated.  Whisk in the beef broth and wine.  Increase heat to med-high and bring to a boil while whisking occasionally.  Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the sour cream until well incorporated.  Add the beef and mushrooms to skillet and heat to warm through, about 2 minutes.  Salt & pepper to taste if needed.  Spoon over buttered noodles.