Saturday, October 9, 2010

Sirloin Stroganoff

Stroganoff is yummy. I mean, if you make it right, it's even better than yummy. You can go the easy way - with ground beef and packaged sauce. You can make it totally from scratch. Or, you can find a great compromise between the two. I like finding ways that I can make something "mostly" from scratch. Let's face it, there are some things that convenience has improved upon. 

First of all - you'll need to assemble your ingredients. This makes a HUGE amount of stroganoff, good if you're feeding a hungry gaggle of kids, even better if you want to freeze some for another time. However, you can easily cut the recipe in half. For the full recipe, you'll need the following:

2 onions - medium sized at least
1 lb of sliced up mushrooms
4 diced cloves of garlic - or 4 tsp of the stuff from the jar
3 lbs (plus a little) Petite Sirloin steak - I had 5 steaks. Slice these into pieces at least half an inch thick, no thicker than an inch.
Butter - 3-4 tablespoons
White Wine or Cooking Sherry
2 packets of ready made stroganoff seasoning
3 cups sour cream
1 cup milk
1 cup whipping cream

You'll also need something to put the stroganoff over.... if you're going the "normal" route. Otherwise you can just serve it up in a bowl and eat away. Traditionally this is served over fluffy egg noodles, but you can get creative - any kind of pasta works, as does rice, or even potatoes (baked or mashed)!

White wine? You ask why white wine when I'm making something with beef? Well, it's really a personal preference. I (and my family) have all come to the agreement that red or burgundy are just too strong a flavor in most foods. Additionally, white wine won't color the sauce red. Also while we're at the "why" part, do me a favor and DO NOT remove the fat from the steaks as you cut them up.

The fat will ensure that the beef browns well and will give the sauce a richness that goes a little deeper than just the butter. Besides, we're going for REAL food here, not that fake, low calorie, no taste stuff.

First, cut your onions in half and then slice the halves. Find your LARGEST frying pan and melt a couple of tablespoons of butter in the pan. The pan I'm using is a Paella Pan - it's really HUGE.....

Add the onions and saute them over medium heat until they start to turn translucent. Add the garlic. Continue cooking, reducing the heat if needed, until the onions start to brown. Add the mushrooms and cover again. Cook until the mushrooms start to do what mushrooms do when you cook them.

In the last couple of minutes, add a few healthy splashes of the wine or sherry. Stir it around, cook until the liquid is all reduced/absorbed and then remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Pour some more wine in the pan to deglaze it. Add another tablespoon or two of butter and once it's melted  place the meat in the pan in a single layer - if the pan is big enough. Cover and cook until the meat is no longer pink.

At this point you can turn the meat if you like, but it's really not necessary. There should be a good accumulation of liquid in the pan at this point, but go ahead and give it a couple more splashes of wine. Cover the pan and let it simmer until the liquid is gone and then a little longer - you'll know it's time to check it when you can hear it sizzling. At this point some of the pieces will be quite browned - go ahead and turn them over and stir them around.

Add enough water to completely cover the meat, return to a boil, reduce the heat until it's just simmering and let it do that for at least an hour - add additional water as needed to prevent the meat from browning even more during this process. The longer you let it simmer, the more tender the beef will be. At this point you can add a little salt if you like - just remember that the pre-made sauce packets have plenty of salt in them.

Once the beef has reached the tenderness level you want, remove the meat from the pan and set aside. In all I cooked the beef for 3 hours, adding about 4 -5 cups of water over the span of this time. I also added additional wine a couple of times.

Add the contents of the two packages of the sauce mix to the remaining liquid in the pan, mix well and add the sour cream, whipping cream and milk. Mix thoroughly.

Return the meat, onions and mushrooms back to the pan, mix until everything is well coated with the sauce. Allow to cook over low heat for another few minutes - this makes sure that all the flavors are nicely married.

While the stroganoff is finishing,  make sure you've also prepped whatever you're serving it over - I opted for the traditional egg noodles this time, along with a nice green salad.
This freezes really well so go ahead and make the full recipe!

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