Nostalgia or Experimentation? The great stroganoff quest

April 1, 2008

The only beef stroganoff my husband and his friend (a bachelor and frequent dinner guest) had ever had was Hamburger Helper.  It was a regularly featured meal in my childhood home, but one I had never made as an adult.  (Probably because I am the only one that likes mushrooms and it never occurred to me to make it without.)

I dug around on the Food Network’s page and found Robert Irvine’s Big Top Beef Stroganoff (from Dinner: Impossible, which I love!)

Then I called my mother and got the family recipe.  It turns out that this recipe came from the back of a Lucerne milk carton (many years ago) and become the de facto family favorite.

Then I was faced with a difficult choice of the old family recipe (that I hadn’t eaten in almost thirty years) and the new.  They are VERY different.  Compare:

Big Top Beef Stroganoff

2007, Robert Irvine, All rights reserved

See this recipe on air Wednesday Apr. 09 at 10:30 PM ET/PT.

Dinner: Impossible

Circus Juggline

Big Top Beef Stroganoff

1 to 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil, as needed to sear steaks
1 (2 to 3-pound) beef bottom round roast, julienned
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 large white onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, lightly crushed with the side of a knife blade, and minced
2 cups (about 6 ounces) white mushrooms, cleaned trimmed, and sliced
2 cups red wine
1 cup beef stock
1 pound egg noodles
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan which should be large enough to accommodate the mushrooms, wine and beef.

Season beef with salt, pepper, and paprika, and set aside briefly.

To the heated pan, add white onion and garlic and saute until the onion becomes translucent. Add the mushrooms and saute until they give up their juices.

Add the beef strips to the pan, pour red wine, pouring over the meat, and allow the wine to reduce by half. Add beef stock and return to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and allow meat to braise until it is fork tender, about 25 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to a boil for the noodles.

Using a slotted spoon, remove meat and mushrooms from pan, cover and keep in a warm place. Allow liquids to reduce and thicken with the pan uncovered.
While the beef stock is reducing, boil the egg noodles until al dente.

Remove sauce from heat and whisk in sour cream and horseradish (which will add stroganoff flavor and stabilize the sauce). Return meat and mushrooms to sauce.

Drain egg noodles well and spoon stroganoff over. Garnish with parsley.

Family (Lucerne) Recipe

1 – 1.5# round steak

1 cube butter

1# mushrooms

1 onion

1T soy sauce

1 can tomato soup

1 can tomato paste

1 C sour cream

Melt butter, saute onions; when softened, add mushrooms

Thinly slice steak (easier if slightly frozen)

Add steak to mushrooms & onions

In separate bowl, mix tomato soup and paste, soy sauce and salt & pepper to taste, then add to meat mixture

Cover and simmer 45-60 minutes

Stir in sour cream and serve over rice

I went to my local gourmet grocery, Metropolitan Market and talked to my butcher.  His opinion was that although tenderloin was the traditional meat of choice and round steak would do, sirloin was the best choice for flavor, tenderness and price.  I took his word for it and let him select one about 1.5 pounds.

I had also never used smoked paprika and was all fired up to try it (and this is the market where such things can be procured.)

So, the decision was made.  I would take Robert Irvine’s recipe and tweak it for my family (which means no mushrooms and no horseradish!)

Aura’s Choice Stroganoff

straganoff 003

1.5# top sirloin steak, julienned

1 bag white pearl onions, peeled

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thwacked with the side of the knife

1T sweet smoked paprika

Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

2C red wine

2C beef broth

After slicing meat, sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and paprika.  Toss meat so all slices have been seasoned.

Cover the bottom of a smoking hot cast iron skillet with olive oil and add the meat (in batches) searing on both sides.  When browned, remove each batch to a dutch oven.

When all meat has been browned and removed, add onions to skillet.  Toss frequently until browned and softened, then add garlic and when garlic has taken on some color, dump contents over the meat in the dutch oven.

straganoff 002

Add wine and cook until liquid has reduced visibly.

Add beef broth, cover and simmer 35 minutes (until meat can be pulled apart and is not chewy.)

In a large pot, boil a gallon of salted water.

Using a slotted spoon, scoop out solids and evacuate (still have that skillet handy?)  Whisking often, cook the liquid for 15 minutes to reduce (now is a good time to add any more seasonings if it isn’t quite right, or to add more broth if you don’t think you have enough sauce.)

Add one 12oz bag of wide egg noodles to boiling water.

Whisk in sour cream and return meat to sauce to bring back to temperature.

straganoff 004

Serve meat and sauce over noodles; garnish with parsley.

straganoff 005


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