Everyone that grew up from the 50’s to the 70’s knows the Beef Stroganoff that was popular in those days. It had ground meat, a can of mushroom soup, and sour cream. Traditionally, it was served over rice. If your family was able to spend a little more, you might’ve gotten the higher class version with actual sliced meat. My Mother referred to the former as “Stroganoff” and the latter as “Beef Tips,” and they were served over egg noodles, and seasoned slightly differently.
Our family loved both dishes and were always excited when Mom was making either one. In my later years, eventually I had to have it again. I always preferred the Stroganoff to the Beef Tips, largely because I liked the flavor better, so I started with my Mother’s Stroganoff recipe and kicked it up a notch or two.
I used a variety of techniques I’ve learned over the years to make the flavors even more intense:
- Lots of butter. It stars with generous butter to saute everything and ends with a process used by Chefs to richen sauces. The translation from the original French means “Mounting the Butter.”
- Deglazing with wine. All those burned bits at the bottom of the pan are concentrated flavor. A quick splash of wine at the right point in the process releases them where they can flavor the gravy.
- Shallots! My Foodie Group includes my good friend and professional restaurateur Chef Michael Clark. I was making the sauce for my Bourbon Steaks and asked Michael how he would improve on them and he suggested adding Shallot. I’ve used the trick many times since. The shallots make any sauce richer and more complex.
- Season early! I add Kosher Salt and Fresh Cracked pepper at several points, with a final tasting to make sure there is enough before I add mushroom soup or sour cream.
- Choice of starch. Here in America, we are used to seeing Stroganoff over rice or egg noodles. But in Russia, the favorite is to put it over French Fries. That’s right, Stroganoff Poutine! And boy is it heavenly over the Fries. If you’re feeling that’s too unhealthy, we also go the opposite extreme. It is fabulous served over Cauliflower Rice. In a pinch, you can also serve it over toasted sourdough bread. One of our frequent guests insists on eating with buttered sourdough toast, in fact.
There are some things I don’t do with this Stroganoff. Many can’t stand the idea of using canned Mushroom Soup, for example. So they will substitute Beef Broth, Dijon Mustard, and Worcestershire Sauce to create their own substitute. Sorry, but I am keeping the link back to my Mother’s original recipe. I may try adding mustard or Worcestershire to see the benefits. But I am unlikely to use Beef Broth.
Another great Chef mentor, once upon a time, told me not to use grocery store Beef Stock. He says it’s mostly salt. Restaurants can get (or more often make) great Beef Stock, but at home, we are better off using Chicken Stock even if beef is called for. I have improved a number of recipes based on that advice, but here I will stay true with my Campbell’s Mushroom Soup.
I’m also not messing around with the meat. All the Cool Kids want to use Rib Eye, Sirloin, or at least Flank Steak. Again, as a kid I liked the ground beef version better than the beef tips, so I’m sticking to it.
The result is tasty, and various friends like it so much they will practically show up at my door with the ingredients and beg to have it made for dinner.
1 1/2 ground beef
2 Tbsp Butter
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic. I put more like 4 to 6 cloves using the already-minced tubes of garlic. 1 clove = 1″ of garlic from the tube.
8 oz package of chopped mushrooms
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 to 1 1/2 cups sour cream (Hint: A double order is one container of sour cream and we always double this recipe!)
Kosher Salt & Fresh Cracked Pepper to taste
Wine to Deglaze (3/4 Tbsp cooking sherry is ideal
2 Tbsp chopped green onion to garnish
Pasta, Rice, or Fries
Sauté the onions, garlic, and shallots in butter for a few minutes.
Add flour and stir to coat. Continue to sauté until the onions are soft and just beginning to brown.
Season with a good pinch of salt and some fresh cracked pepper.
Add ground beef and cook until browned.
Add mushrooms and let them soak up the liquid.
Deglaze the brown spots in bottom of pan. Just pour a little of your deglazing liquid (wine or sherry) onto the spots and scrape vigorously with your wooden spoon.
Season with salt and pepper again. Stir well to incorporate the season then carefully taste the meat. It should have just a hint of salt in the flavor. No more than that as the Cream of Mushroom soup will add more salt.
Add the soup, stir to coat, and let it warm a few minutes.
Add the sour cream and stir until smooth. Let warm a couple minutes.
Now do the final tasting and salt and pepper to taste.
Just before you serve, garnish the top with chopped green onions.
Serve over rice, pasta, or French fries.