The picture above may look like what my father calls “the dog’s breakfast,” but I assure you that it is an excellent rendition of that fine specimen of American casserole cuisine, beef stroganoff.
Beef stroganoff, generally speaking, is basically beef and mushrooms in a sour cream-based sauce over egg noodles. Usually, there’s paprika. Recipes diverge from there.
Some quick (and shoddy) Wikipedia research reveals that stroganoff is of Russian origin and is typical of native Russian cuisine, which generally involves meat, dairy, starch, and a distinct absence of vegetables. Beets and cabbage are notable exceptions to this rule. (Which situation features prominently in my forthcoming scholarly monograph, alternately titled, Gastronomic Motivations of Self-death in Anna Karenina, or, “I Swear to God, Vronsky, if you Mention Borscht One More #&$@&-ing Time, I’m Going to Throw myself in Front of a Train, Just See if I Don’t…”)
My version uses ground chuck, rather than the much more expensive sliced tenderloin, and in order to reduce the damage to my arterial walls, I substituted low fat greek yogurt for the sour cream. This stroganoff is low stress and budget-friendly, and be honest: Haven’t you been looking for an excuse to eat Hamburger Helper?
If you took a close look at the picture above, you’ll likely have noticed that the yogurt curdled a bit during cooking. This is an aesthetic problem rather than a gustatory one, but it can be avoided by turning the heat off (or way down) before adding the yogurt. The residual heat should be enough to heat it through. Regardless, a few curds never hurt anyone.
I have heard rumors of whole wheat egg noodles. I was eager to try them, but there was no such thing at Whole Foods. Boil ’em if you’ve got ’em. If you’re a vegetarian, this would be pretty much just as good with only mushrooms. You can also try the imitation ground beef stuff they make, but you do so without my sanction.
Beef (and/or Mushroom) Stroganoff
This recipe made an obscene amount of stroganoff. Probably almost 8 servings worth. You can easily halve it.
1 pound egg noodles (whole wheat earns bonus points)
1 pound ground chuck
2 medium onions, chopped
1 pound button or crimini mushrooms, sliced
2 tsp. paprika (more to taste)
2 cups sour cream or yogurt
1. Cook egg noodles according to package instructions while you follow the rest of the recipe. If they are done before the sauce is, drain them and dress them with a little bit of butter or oil to prevent sticking, which they are more prone to than regular pasta.
2. Saute ground beef over medium heat. Unless you’ve bought the 99.9% lean variety, you don’t need any fat in the pan to start. Cook until done, breaking up chunks as you go. Don’t overcook. Think about what a medium burger looks like inside, and don’t feel like you need to get every last bit of pink out.
3. Remove beef with slotted spoon, leaving drippings in the pan. Add onion and saute until soft. Add mushrooms, along with paprika, a generous amount of salt, and a pat of butter. Cook until mushrooms are soft, about 8 minutes.
4. Add the beef back in, let it warm up, then turn off the heat and add the sour cream or yogurt. Stir to combine.
5. Pour sauce over noodles and serve.
6. Smirk at how much better you are at cooking than Betty Crocker, then thank the nearest Russian, provided he is not Vladimir Putin. He crazy.