When we’re seeking something decadent, but don’t want to spend hours in the kitchen, beef stroganoff is a perfect option: it’s quick, simple, casual, yet delicious. I’ve heard people say that the dish is dated or old-fashioned, but a classic never loses its charm. Maybe thirty years ago it was overused and abused at dinner parties. Forget about that. A well prepared beef stroganoff (or stroganov, strogonov) is completely satisfying: succulent meat and mushrooms, cohabiting in a wonderful creamy sauce and served over noodles. What’s not to like? Among the many recipes I’ve tried, I recently settled on this one from Ruth Reichl’s Gourmet.
3 + 1/2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs flour
1 cup beef stock (homemade if available)
1 pound filet mignon, cut in 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
1/2 cup shallots, thinly sliced
3/4 pound cremini mushrooms, quartered
3 Tbs sour cream
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
2 Tbs fresh dill, minced
Make a roux by melting the butter and whisking in the flour, cooking for 2 minutes, stirring. Slowly add beef stock, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve, keeping it warm.
Dry the pieces of beef with a paper towel, season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil on a large skillet and brown the meat on both sides, but do not try to cook it completely. Transfer the meat to a plate and reserve. Add remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and cook the shallots, cooking for 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook for 8-10 minutes, until all the moisture evaporates, and they start to brown.
Return the meat with its juices to the pan. stir to combine and transfer to a serving plate. Reheat the reserved sauce over low heat, add the sour cream, mustard, dill, season with salt and pepper. Pour sauce over beef and serve over noodles of your choice.
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Comments: Almost every recipe for stroganoff uses beef tenderloin, a cut that benefits from fast cooking, but doesn’t have much flavor. Since the sauce contributes most of the flavor for this dish, tenderloin has a chance to shine. However, when we lived in France, we frequented a small, inexpensive bistrot where stroganoff － one of their specialties － was made with a stew-beef, almost along the lines of beef Bourguignon. It was still delicious, but to me, a bit unusual. Fast forward a few years, and reading Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc, I noticed that his stroganoff uses braised beef short ribs! Well, that settles it: I will have to try his method, because it may just bring those memories of Paris, which are always welcome, back to our table! 😉
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