The Best Beef Stroganoff?

The Best Beef Stroganoff: This is really perfect - the recipe came from Russia

Do any of you guys have that one Aunt? The one that always made you feel special and had just a little something extra to her personality? Mine was my Aunt Ginny, my Dad’s sister. She was definitely the fun Aunt.

My Aunt Ginny's Beef Stroganoff - she brought the recipe back from Russia during the Cold war.
My Aunt Ginny’s Beef Stroganoff – she brought the recipe back from Russia during the Cold war.

Way back when the Cold War was a thing, Ginny went to Russia with a delegation and brought us back nesting dolls and this Beef Stroganoff recipe. Of course, we all fell in love with this rich, creamy dish.

Beef Stroganoff is super easy and super fast, even this one that has a few special touches you might not see in our run of the mill American Stroganoffs. It’s so simple that technique makes all the difference. Slice the meat thinly and really sear it till it browns over a *sharp* fire, as Ginny said, and be careful while cooking those mushrooms not to burn the bottom of the pan and that lovely fond.

I’ve been told no self-respecting Russian would serve Stroganoff without Sweet Gherkins on the side, but the Sweet Gherkins are IN this recipe. And they’re the perfect counterpoint to all the rich cream. Try them in the dish. You can push them to the side if you don’t care for them…did I say that? Seriously, don’t do that…

My Aunt Ginny's Beef Stroganoff - she brought the recipe back from Russia during the Cold war.
My Aunt Ginny’s Beef Stroganoff – she brought the recipe back from Russia during the Cold war.

The other things that makes this Stroganoff special? It uses soured cream, not our American Sour Cream and it’s served (normally at our house) over rice. I didn’t do that when I made it for my Dad and just used a good egg noodle. He was not happy. Nor was he happy that I use a pretty heavy hand with the spices, a lighter hand with the cream and tossed a smidge of brandy in the mix.

I guess we’ll have to have a “Stroganoff Off”, Dad and I, and see what version is the best. Between you and me, I’ll make it exactly like Ginny next time, just for my Dad. When you’re my Da’s age, sometimes you just want what you want and at his age, he deserves it, too! And I’ll give you my Aunt’s recipe and my change ups, too, so you can choose.

My Aunt and folks always used thinly sliced Sirloin for this recipe, I’ve always used Round steak (you have to be very careful not to over cook either, especially the round or it will be tough and not tasty) and many recipes use the pricier tenderloin. Personally, I like the flavor of the Sirloin best, but you can choose your price point!

My Aunt Ginny's Beef Stroganoff - she brought the recipe back from Russia during the Cold war.
My Aunt Ginny’s Beef Stroganoff – she brought the recipe back from Russia during the Cold war.

Beef Stroganoff

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided (may use half butter and half olive oil for less chance of over browning)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 pounds beef, thinly sliced against the grain at an angle, Sirloin, Round or Tenderloin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 10 ounces of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4 small sweet gherkins, julianned thinly
  • 2 cups cream, soured with vinegar or 1 cup beef stock & 1 cup cream, soured (see note)
  • parsley for garnish, if desired

Preheat a large skillet with 2 tablespoons butter over medium high heat. Sprinkle beef with paprika, nutmeg and salt and pepper. When good and hot, working in batches, lay beef in a single layer; cook until seared and browned on the first side, then turn and quickly sear on the second. Remove from heat and set aside, tented with foil to keep warm, and repeat.

The beef should be well browned and still slightly pink in the center; it will continue to cook a bit from carryover heat as it rests and cook a little more when it hits the hot sauce.

Turn the pan to medium, add the remaining two tablespoons butter and add onions and mushrooms to the pan. Cover and cook for several minutes, stirring now until beginning to brown. Remove the lid and continue to cook until mushrooms are golden brown and the liquid is pretty much gone. If the bottom of the pan is getting too dark and in danger of burning as the mushrooms cook, add a little water to the pan (maybe two, three tablespoons.)

If using brandy, add to the pan, carefully off heat and stir until evaporated, scraping the bottom. Put the pan back on the heat. Push the mushrooms aside and add the tomato paste, cooking until it loses a bit of its bright red color, about a minute or so.

If using stock, add it now and cook until reduced by about half. Turn the heat to low and add the cream (either the one cup or two cups depending on whether part of the liquid you used was stock) and stir in to form a sauce. When the cream is warmed through, add the beef back in along with any juices and the julienned gherkins, and stir together.

Taste, and add more salt and pepper, garnish with parsley if desired and serve over rice or pasta.

Notes:

  • Try tossing the steak in the freezer for 25 minutes or so for easier slicing
  • To sour cream, add a tablespoon of vinegar per cup to heavy cream.
  • When I make beef Stroganoff, I use a heavier hand with the spices (3/4 teaspoon paprika, two good pinches of nutmeg, salt and a very generous amount of pepper) I also add 3 to four cloves of chopped garlic just as the mushrooms are finishing and right before the tomato paste.
  • Many recipes for beef Stroganoff use a little Worcestershire sauce; I chose a little brandy, and the recipe from my Aunt used neither.

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I’ll be sharing this at our very own Throwback Thursday Link party, hosted by Quinn, Alli, Carlee & Meaghan. Click the link to check out our blogs & rules or just click the blue froggy, below.

I’ll also be sharing to Angie’s Fiesta Friday Party – the hosts this week are Julie @ Hostess at Heart and Linda @ Fabulous Fare Sisters. Stop by and mingle.

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