Dinner Tonight: Beef Stroganoff

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

Sometimes a craving for some classic dish from childhood will hit me like a ton of bricks. Swedish meatballs, tuna and pea casserole, fettucine alfredo—none of them have any mercy on me. So when I recently began to imagine tender strips of beef in a rich, tangy sauce over egg noodles, I knew Stroganoff had struck.

Though my mom used to make it from a packet, that obviously wasn't going to work for distinguished readers of Serious Eats. As I often do, I turned to Simply Recipes, where I found a speedy version with no need for long cooking or simmering, flavored somewhat fancily with shallots, nutmeg, and tarragon. With more time, I might have opted for a recipe using a cheaper cut of beef and a lengthy, tenderizing cooking time. But I loved the quickness of this recipe, and it hits all the right spots, huge on flavor. It's also full of sour cream and butter and there's nothing green in sight.

The way I see it, the more weight you gain before January 1, the more impressive that New Year's resolution has a chance to be. Now is not the time for prudence.

Beef Stroganoff

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

Dinner Tonight: Beef Stroganoff

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About This Recipe

Yield:4

Ingredients

    • 6 tablespoons butter
    • 1 pound tender beef, such as top sirloin or tenderloin, cut thin into 1/2-inch wide strips
    • 1/3 cup chopped shallots (or substitute onion and a clove of garlic)
    • 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
    • Salt to taste
    • Pepper to taste
    • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon dry tarragon or 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh tarragon
    • 1 tablespoon brandy or cognac (optional)
    • 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
    • 3/4 pound egg noodles

Procedures

  1. 1

    In a large skillet with plenty of room for the beef strips to brown without crowding (work in batches if necessary), heat half the butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides and the butter is very hot, add the beef strips in a single layer. The pan should be hot enough to brown the beef quickly, but not hot enough to burn the butter. Turn once to brown the other side, then season well with salt and pepper. Remove the beef strips to a bowl, leaving the fat and juices in the pan.

  2. 2

    Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallots. Cooking until soft, for a couple minutes, as they soak up the juices. Scrape them into the bowl with the beef. In the meantime, bring a pot of salty water to boil and prepare to cook the egg noodles until tender.

  3. 3

    Add the remaining butter to the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. When the butter foam subsides, add the mushrooms, tarragon, nutmeg, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until the mushrooms are soft and golden. Begin cooking the noodles.

  4. 4

    Add a few tablespoon of water and the brandy or coganc (if using) to deglaze the pan (gently scape up any browned bits). Lower the heat and add the sour cream, making sure it does not boil or it will separate. Stir in the beef and shallots, and add water if necessary to thin the sauce to a good consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve over the noodles.

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