01 June 2009

beef stroganoff

Okay, I'm really behind on this, but Abby (the one in the "contributor" sidebar over there) posted these two things on her personal blog about beef stroganoff. You should read them. First, because she's hilarious and a fantastically snarky writer. Second, it's a good recipe for beef stroganoff. Sadly, I was raised on the "fake" beef stroganoff and am not fond of it. (No finger-pointing at my mom, though. With 8 kids, there was never steak in our house. I think the first time I actually ate steak, I was an adult.) I'm delighted to discover the correct way to make beef stroganoff because I had no idea there was another way to do it.

By the way, Abby, thank you for posting this blog in your comments, but at the same time, I'm offended that you didn't think yourself to cross-post those posts here. This is, after all, where we promote good eatin' and eliminating the junk from our kitchens. Including junk recipes, apparently.

the initial rant about fake vs. real beef stroganoff

a second post
about how Abby makes the real beef stroganoff - make sure to read the comments as well.


Abby said...

You still read my blog? I'm amazed and confused. I'm also flattered that you consider me snarky. Huzzah!

Yeah, that was a fun one. I'd hoped to offend quite a few more folks with that first one, but apparently using McCormick's packets finally did the trick. And I've gotten quite a few compliments on the easy McCormick's version from folks who finally graduated from the ground beef version. My work here is done.

Thanks for reminding me to add this blog to the sidebar on my blog. Don't know why I hadn't done it before...huh.

Liz Autry said...

So, um, Abby, do you have a non-McCormick's version without the alcohol?

Abby said...

You're willing to go all the way then? Good for you. And for the record, you can basically take any recipe for beef stroganoff you find and if it calls for alcohol, just emit it. It won't make that much of a difference, trust me, especially after seeing so many different varieties of the same recipe over time.

There are, I suspect, thousands of variations of beef S. that call for making it from scratch. The question is how involved do you want it? There are very simple ones that basically very quickly replicate in a bowl what you would otherwise find in the McCormick's packet, but with fresh mushrooms instead (essentially all it is is flour + spices + dehydrated mushrooms, and that's why I like it; saves a lot of time and measuring). Usually these scratch recipes also call for fresh onion (sauteed in the pan before the steak) and freshly pressed garlic (also fried in the pan with the onions in some butter).

Pretty much the secret to any good beef stroganoff recipe (besides quality meat) is in the sauce that the beef simmers in (and is served with thereafter); there are variations of what that sauce can have, but at the very least it should have flour (usually 2 T depending on the number you're feeding), onion, garlic, salt, pepper, fresh sliced mushrooms, and sour cream (usually 1/2 c., more depending on how much you're making). Sometimes paprika and/or Worcestershire sauce or soy sauce or Dijon mustard are called for depending on who you're talking to, but personally I've never found them absolutely necessary to produce the traditional taste I'm looking for. They taste good added, don't get me wrong, but are not necessary.

OR, I've seen far MORE involved versions that will call for darn near everything under the sun to be thrown in there--some seem appetizing while others do not--and take you half a friggin' day to make. Personally, I love beef stroganoff, but not enough to go to those lengths.

In case you haven't caught on, a lot of what makes the sauce is personal preference and taste. I am of the firm belief that for it to be considered beef stroganoff in name certain basic ingredients must be used (such as those listed above), but beyond that you can add just about anything that toots your horn. Same goes for the amount of the ingredients you add, such as the onions, garlic, mushrooms, salt, pepper, etc. A lot of that is hard to give an exact measurement for because it's "to taste" and depends on how much you want in there in the first place. Trial and error, trial and error. Plus, things like consistency are personal prefernce also. I grew up with a little soupier sauce, but others prefer it a little thicker relying on the sour cream alone rather than adding milk or water to make it thinner.

So the real question is what are you looking for and just how far do you want to take it?

Lauren Baugus said...

Um...if you "emit" alcohol, you spew it from yourself...if you "omit" alcohol, you leave it out...just sayin'. This recipe sounds delicious, by the way!

Abby said...

Yeah, I just noticed I had written it that way ("Why on earth did I write 'emit' when I meant 'omit'?") and was going to correct myself. AND THEN YOU POINTED OUT HOW STUPID I AM. THANK YOU.

But seriously, thank you.