Beef Stroganoff, in its simplest form, is simply tender beef with a mushroom and sour cream sauce served over rice or noodles. Although several magazines and cookbooks claim this dish has been served for centuries in Russia, the current accepted history of this dish dates back to the 1890's when a chef working for Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov (the famous Russian general) invented the recipe for a cooking competition in St. Petersburg. After the fall of Imperial Russia, the recipe was popularly served in the hotels and restaurants of China before the start of the Second World War. Russian and Chinese immigrants, as well as U.S. servicemen stationed in pre-communist China, brought several variants of the dish to the United States, which may account for its popularity during the 1950's. I like to prepare beef stroganoff with Dijon mustard, cognac, and dill weed to add some extra depth to this flavorful dish.
Begin by assembling the ingredients: 1-1/2 lb. beef tenderloin (if using another cut, select a lean cut and remove any excess fat, gristle, or membranes), 1/2 medium onion, 1/2 lb. button mushrooms, 3/4 cup to 1 cup beef broth (preferably low sodium - salt can always be added but is difficult to take out), 2 tablespoons of cognac, 1 cup sour cream, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon of dried dill weed.
Thickly slice the mushrooms and finely dice the onions. Cut the beef into thinly against the grain, and then slice into 1 inch (2.5 cm) by 2 inch (5.1 cm) rectangles. (Freezing the beef for about an hour and using a sharp knife will make the slicing easier.) [IMG]
Place a large pot filled with 4 quarts of water over high heat (for the egg noodles). While the water is coming to a boil, place two tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan or skillet (preferably a traditional pan or cast iron, not non-stick) over medium heat. [IMG]
Once the butter stops foaming, place the strips of beef onto the hot pan. Try not crowd the pan - most likely you'll need to brown the beef in at least two batches. Once the beef has been laid down on the pan, allow it to brown, about one minute. Once the beef has browned, flip the pieces over and let the other side brown. Remove the beef and repeat as needed to brown all the beef. (It is okay to add a bit of vegetable oil if the pan starts to dry up.) If done properly, the beef should still have a medium rare interior after this browning process. By browning the meat first, we give the beef tenderloin a stronger flavor and also leave some flavorful, browned, caramelized bits (fond) in the pan for making the sauce. [IMG]
Once all the beef have been browned, place the diced onions in the pan over low heat. Move the onions around a bit to coat evenly in the remaining fat in the pan, then spread out the onions and allow them to cook. The onions will release liquid as they cook down, about four minutes. While the onions are cooking, use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the fond off the bottom of the pan and mix into the onions. [IMG]
Add the thickly sliced mushrooms to the onions and stir to evenly coat with fat. Add a pinch os salt to the mushrooms. Seasoning with salt at this stage will help the mushrooms release their water faster. Allow the mushrooms to cook, tossing occassionally, until all the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. [IMG]
Add the beef broth and cognac to the pan and turn up the heat to medium or medium-high and allow it to reduce. When reduced, the liquid should coat the back of a spoon (or your mushrooms). This will take about 15 minutes.
While waiting for the mushrooms to cook, cook the egg noodles (a 12 ounce bag is a good amount). Hopefully, the water should be boiling at this point. Add the egg noodles and cook to the desired texture. Remove the noodles from the pot and toss with 2 tablespoons butter to keep them from sticking and to add some flavor. Rinsing the noodles will make it more difficult for sauces to cling to the noodles. [IMG]
Back to the stroganoff: Lower the heat and add the sour cream and Dijon mustard. [IMG]
Stir the mixture together and bring to a light simmer. [IMG]
Add the beef (and any juices that have collected in the plate) to the mixture and stir in. Allow the sauce to simmer, reheating the beef. Do not heat the beef too long, or you could overcook it - about two minutes should do it. [IMG]
Stir in some dill and season with salt and black pepper to taste. [IMG]
Serve immediately over the egg noodles. The sauce is thick, rich, and flavorful, so there's no reason to drench the noodles with the sauce. Simply place a pile of egg noddles on a plate and scoop some beef stroganoff over it. [IMG]
Looks great! Dill is a wonderful addition, and folks often say "I've wondered how else to use that". I also add about 1/2 tsp caraway and 1/2 tsp dill Seed, ground fine, to enrich the "Northen Caucasus" effect.
For Economy, I use tenderized Rump Roast for this. Yes, Tenderloin is superior, but RR is $1.88 this week, while T is $12.99. The results are more "al dente", but if the price of tenderloin keeps you away, then try the following: (Since the time is in the prep, I usually do 3 pounds, for 1 night stir-fry and 1 night stroggie).
1) Cut the rump into logs, with the grain. The size of the roast you purchase will dictate the length of the log, but go for 2" by 2" width. (The grain is easy to see on rump: the endgrain should stare at you from the 2x2 face.
2) Freeze, on plate, separated. Turn at 20 minutes to facilitate even freezing. When semi frozen and still a bit resilient, it's ready to slice.
3) Sharp knife, heavy knife: I use the 12" Chef or the medium cleaver, depending on which one is clean. Sharp. Sharp.
4) Cut the 2x2 log into thin slices, across grain. Use a forward-moving stroke rather than a straight down. Try for 1/6" for stir fry. Stroggie can be thicker.
5) Tenderize: a) Beat with meat tenderizer. This can be really fun. I like to step out to my concrete step-landing, lay down 1/2" of newspaper to absorb shock, use large polycarbonate board, put plastic wrap on top of meat, and start slamming with the 4 quart Calphalon saucepan. Then, remove plastic and use the toothed face of a hefty meat tenderizer (A good tenderizer should weigh at least 8 ounces, metal and not wood. I got one at the local Asian store for $4, identical to the Williams Sonoma at $15. Usually NOT dishwasher safe). Nice finish is to puncture with spike tool of 6 penny nails spaced on a head.
6) Meat is now well pounded, and thus larger than 2" x 2". Slice in half.
7) Put meat in small ziploc with enough canola or olive oil to fully saturate, with a littleextra. Refrigerate and massage/shift occasionally (will last for several days). The oil lubricates between the muscle cables that you have opened, and mimics the function of marbling. Don't add acid as it retards browning/fonding.
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1651 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Wed Jul 27, 2005 11:04 pm Post subject: Re: it's a heart attack!
1.5lb of beef, butter, sour cream...
I can feel my arteries hardening now. I'm sure it's a classic recipie but yeech!!
is there any way of doing this without risking a coranary?
It is doubtful that eating this dish (even consistently as part of your diet) will contribute to your risk of coronary heart disease. I assume since you are adverse to the ingredients you have listed, you are fairly health conscious and are avoiding fast foods and trans fats and live a fairly healthy lifestyle (regular exercise, varied meals, low stress, etc.). Those choices will make a much greater impact on your potential longevity (sometimes you just can't fight your destiny) than consuming lean beef, a few tablespoons on butter, and a cup of sour cream. Also, you're not supposed to eat the whole thing, just a serving.
I'm not sure which part of the recipe you have concerns over (is it the total fat intake? the cholesterol? the saturated fat? number of calories?) but I'm going to assume it's the saturated fat aspect because you mention beef, butter, and sour cream and suggest replacing some of the butter with olive oil and garlic.
This sounds like a good suggestion - I prefer the flavor that butter brings (and the heathful properties of butter and cream since I do not drink milk regularly anymore) but olive oil and garlic are great for this dish as well. The blend of 1 Tbs. butter with 1 Tbs. olive oil and 1 minced clove works well with this dish.
If you choose to, the replacement of non-fat sour cream for the sour cream can be made, but you'll lose out on the nutritional properties of the fat found in the sour cream (some fat soluble vitamins, essential amino acids, and powerful antioxidants).
For the beef, there's really no substitute there... However, tenderloin is a fairly lean cut, and you can use rump or round as jimjimjim9 mentioned.
(For the record, I do not personally believe that saturated fat and cholesterol are primary antecedants for coronary heart disease. There has recently been a lot of research in this area that bring previously accepted hypotheses into question. However, since this issue is far from settled, I understand that many, many of my readers believe otherwise, so I encourage readers to suggest alternative ways of preparing dishes.)
Good point from TheLoneCabbage. We spend $3-30? billion annually on dietary research, and definative answers are slow. The latest is that sat fat ain't as bad as the engineered trans-fat that the body does not recognize (evolutionary history of ingestion).
A few months ago I did this dish (stroganoff) for some lacto-vegans, with 2 major modifications:
1) Use "Yochee" (= "yogurt cheese") instead of sour cream. Yochee is simply "drained yogurt". To find info, Google for "yochee" and also check out the library books of Nikki and David Goldberg, longtime and dedicated health proponents and authors of the "yochee" name. This dish looks for a
"sour" component, and both sour cream (hi sat fat) and yochee (lo sat) provide the LACTIC ACID sour that is required. So, check the yochee recipes, or simply drain a quart of yogurt thru the coffeemaker basket (filtered) to provide the dairy. The "mouth feel" will not be as rich as the
original sour cream recipe, but, you asked for substitutes. Caution on adding to heated sauce for curdling/breaking.
2) Use Tofu, fried, as a sub for Beef. Extra firm tofu (press what ya got in paper towels to draw the last vestiges of moisture), fried hard, mimics the mouth-feel of beef, for those who are seeking to avoid the Cow. Slice 1/8" before frying, as it will puff.
3) Like Mike said, Tenderloin is a very fat-free cut. So is Rump. Google the stats, decide where you stand, and start slicing something and cooking this wonderful dish.
4) The real solution is: "Achieving Peace of Mind". Julia Child has just died at age 91, chortling about the beauties of butter and beef all the way to her grave. We can demand better results from our dietary researchers as to the Real Story on "sat fat/trans fat/cholesterol", and demand better utilization of "small-system closed-system" grazing to produce healthier beef.
5) And for now, tonight, as an Okie gazing out the window on un-utilized grazing systems; as a lover and also a fabricator of tofu; as a guy who has Yochee draining in my frig: I'm gonna smother down on some beef stroganoff, with beef, sour cream, and some homemade wholewheat noodles.
Posted: Sun Jul 31, 2005 9:04 pm Post subject: butter
Wow, if someone is really that concerned about using 2 tablespoons of butter and a little sour cream in a recipe, I'd say they should stick to microwaving Lean Cuisines. Good cooking, in many styles, is almost always going to involve a decent amount of fat (and another bogeyman, salt).
It doesn't matter, though. Cooking for yourself starting with whole foods puts you light years ahead of someone that's eating processed food, even 'healthy' processed food, and with a little exercise and balance there's no problem staying healthy.
Posted: Fri Aug 05, 2005 8:35 am Post subject: Pickled Cucumber!
I'm certain that your recipe yields a very nice ragout. But for me, it is not Boeuf Stroganoff, if it does not contain pickled cucumber (Cornichons). Just dice them and add them 2-3 minutes before the end of cooking. Also, some lemon juice rounds out the taste.
Posted: Mon Aug 08, 2005 2:19 pm Post subject: Beef Stroganoff Sour Cream Substitute
I wanted to mention a milk product that can be used in place of sour cream: Kefir. I live in Hungary right now and it is very common here. I think it is of Central Asian origin and I have seen it in groceries in Boston. It is much lighter in fat, at the same level as whole milk, if I recall correctly, has the probiotics of yogurt, and can give you the creaminess of sour cream. It can be a bit liquidy though.
The addition of pickled cucumbers to a hot dish is something that adds a whole new dimension to this (stroganoff) and other recipes.
We americans traditionally use pickles mostly for 1) ingredients in cold salads such as tuna salad and potato salad, or 2) as a solo side condiment to to a sandwich plate with potato chips.
Yet, anyone who gardens and cans the early summer bounty of cucumbers looks for ways to use up that bounty of home-packed pickles.
As to "dill" or "sweet", I find that I often cannot decide which to use, and end up doing a 50/50 of both, with interesting results.
"Cornichon" is a term that seems to run the gamut from gourmet petite gherkins to any canned cucumber. When I first encountered it years ago, I was afraid I'd have to search the specialty stores as closely as for finding capers. Nope... just experiment with pickles, both sweet and sour.
Thanks again for the expansion of horizon into considering ways to use pickles in a heated sauce.
I'd include a discussion of the marvelous variety of salt-pickled veggies (rather than brine fermented or vinegar preserved) that Japanese pickles
can offer. But I need to get a spellchecker first, so that comments and feedback can remain on-topic toward our mutual goal of sharing the science and breadth of cooking.
Ee-teh-dah-kee-mas. (That's the phrase that Japanese say when they gather at the table and begin. It means "Let's Eat!) Let's keep it on cooking. This forum is attracting people who want to learn method and technique and interchangabilty in recipes.
Joined: 25 Aug 2005 Posts: 2 Location: Orlando, FL
Posted: Thu Aug 25, 2005 4:16 pm Post subject:
I tried making this last night and found the mustard taste to be overpowering, even though I only used a tablespoon. It wasn't that noticable when having a piece of beef, but any bite without beef in it was much too tangy for my taste. I think remaking this with less (or no) mustard would probably make this much more enjoyable to me. The dill weed definitely added a good flavor to it, so it's definitely staying in!