Up until a week ago, I had nothing good to say about Beef Stroganoff. I was scarred by it as a child. I must have been 5 or 6 when my mom made this for dinner. A bowl of pasta covered in a grayish-brown gravy with chunks of beef and mushrooms. Sounds harmless, doesn’t it? It was horrible – gag reflex horrible. I’m probably making a bigger deal of this than it was, but I still recall sitting at our yellow and white kitchen table refusing to take any more bites of this stuff, my mom refusing to let me leave until I ate my dinner. It was a test of wills that left my 6 year old self traumatized.
My mom is a fantastic cook. She has made some amazing food through out my life, but Beef Stroganoff was not one of them. She probably doesn’t even remember this incident, but it has been ingrained in my memory I haven’t eaten Beef Stroganoff since and the thought of combining sour cream, beef and mushrooms continues to make my mouth water, and not in a good way. Coincidentally, John has similarly bad memories of Beef Stoganoff from his much younger days. Apparently it was the dinner for moms to make in the late 70′s. This makes me wonder which of the meals I’m currently making will be the ones to define my boys’ childhood.
I recently purchased America’s Test Kitchen’s Comfort Food Makeovers. I love their cookbooks, every recipe has been well tested and usually results in an extraordinary meal. Excitedly, I open to the center of the book and there it is, the first photograph and recipe I see…Beef Stroganoff. It was a sign. Time to grow up and revisit this menace from my past. John was skeptical and a bit worried that we would continue the cycle with our own children, but I had to give it a go. Surely, if anyone can make a good Beef Stroganoff, it has to be America’s Test Kitchen.
The recipe calls for fresh portobella mushrooms. I’m pretty sure the 1970 version used canned mushrooms, so this is a major improvement already. Two large mushrooms are cleaned, sliced, roasted and set aside for later use. At first I was worried there would a mushroom overload, but roasting them removes much of the liquid. The mushrooms shrunk up a lot, however their earthly flavor was really magnified.
Next is the beef. Sirloin steak is cut into strips then soaked in water and baking soda to tenderize. Good quality, tender red meat. This recipe keeps getting better and better.
The beef is cooked in two batches over high heat. The recipe called for a non-stick skillet, but I used a stainless steel one. You’re going to want to stir the meat, but don’t. Let it set for 2 minutes before flipping. The meat will release from the pan on it’s own.
Once all the meat is done, remove it from the pan. There will be lots of brown bits stuck to the pan. Don’t scrape it out just yet. This is why I like using a stainless steel skillet versus a non stick. Those crunchy brown bits are all flavor and will enhance the final product. You don’t get that from a non-stick skillet. Add the garlic, onions and cook until browned. Then add the mushrooms, flour and tomato paste. This concoction looks a bit messy. Don’t worry, it will all come together when the liquids are added.
Now it’s time to add the liquids – beef stock, white wine and dijon mustard. Be sure to scrape up those brown bits from the bottom of the pan. After a quick simmer, add the beef, remove the pan from the heat and add the yogurt and egg whites. No sour cream here which makes me feel infinitely better about trying this recipe.
This is a rich, flavorful dish that’s absolutely delicious. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. We served it over no-yolk egg noodles, garnished with chopped parsley. Comfort food indeed. The big test was whether or not the boys would eat it. Would we continue the cycle of bad Beef Stroganoff?
Garrett loved it and went back for seconds. He particularly liked the sirloin. It was tender and not chewy at all. Everett is always a bit skeptical of new foods. He’s not nearly the adventurous eater Garrett has always been. Everett ate everything but the mushrooms, as expected (he’s not a fan of fungi). His favorite part was the sauce and pasta. It took a bit of goading, but he did end up eating all the beef. If it weren’t for bacon and hot dogs, Everett would gladly be a vegetarian.
Now, to give my parents credit, I don’t have many bad childhood memories. Obviously, there’s the Beef Stroganoff incident. There’s the time I was followed home by a police car when I decided to run away from home. I was 3, riding my big wheel and not coping well with a new baby brother. Lastly there was the time I was out crabbing with my dad and a bee stung me on my lip, 2 days before the start of 5th grade. The bee was in my cup of orange soda (this is back when they used real sugar) and apparently it did not want to share. I think having to show up for the first day of school with a swollen lip was more traumatic than the actual bee sting itself, but I still flinch when I hear that familiar buzzing sound. Mom, Dad…you’ve done good. John and I have managed to break the Beef Stroganoff cycle with the boys, but I’m sure I’ll find many ways to scar their childhood if I haven’t already.
- 1 1/2 lb portobello mushrooms
- vegetable oil spray
- salt and pepper
- 1 t baking soda
- 1 1/4 lb sirloin steak thinly sliced into 2 inch pieces
- 10 oz no yolk egg noodles
- 1 T canola oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 white onion, finely chopped
- 4 t all purpose flour
- 2 t tomato paste
- 1 1/2 c beef broth
- 3 T dry white wine
- 2 t dijon mustard
- 1/2 c non-fat plain greek yogurt
- 1 large egg white
- fresh parsley, chopped for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Remove the stem and gently scrape the gills out of the mushrooms using a metals spoon. Cut the mushrooms in half then slice into thin strips. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil. Place the mushrooms on the baking sheet then lightly coat them with more oil. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper on top. Cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
- While the mushrooms are cooking, fill a medium bowl with 1/2 cup water and stir in the baking soda. Add the sirloin strips and allow to soak for 15 minutes to tenderize the meat.
- Bring 4 quarts water to a boil. Add salt and cook the egg noodles according to package directions. When the pasta is done, drain and place back in pot and cover until ready to use.
- Once the mushrooms are finished cooking, remove them from the oven and set aside for later use.
- Drain the beef. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. Place 1 teaspoon canola oil in a large skillet and bring to high heat on the stove top. Add half the beef and allow it to cook without stirring for 1 to 2 minutes. The edges of the beef are ready to flip when they turn brown. Flip and cook for 30 seconds more or until the beef is no longer pink. Remove beef from the pan and place in a bowl. Repeat with second half, adding 1 teaspoon more oil if needed.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add the last teaspoon of vegetable oil, the onions and garlic. Cook until brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the mushrooms, flour and tomato paste. Stir and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in the beef stock, wine and dijon mustard. Bring the sauce to a boil then turn the heat to medium low and simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened.
- Add the beef and any juices in the bowl to sauce. Cook for 2 minutes until the meat is just heated through. Remove the pan from the heat. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and egg white then stir into the meat and sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve hot over egg noodles. Garnish with chopped parsley.