I bet you heard about Beef Stroganoff? Today, I want to share the boozy version of this classic Russian dish, which in my opinion is the best, and also some useful cooking tips. I’ll tell you how to keep your beef super tender, so that your stroganoff doesn’t feel like rubber in a sauce and how to safely reheat the leftovers. Yup, you can totally kill your stroganoff by simply reheating it. And I’ve done that, so I know now too!
In 1940’s America Beef Stroganoff was considered a fancy dish for an elegant dinner party. Today, it is a relatively common, comfort-food style recipe, especially in Eastern Europe, where I know the best versions of it from, and in America, where so-called beef stroganoff is absolutely drowned in sour cream, or made with canned mushroom soup (???) instead of a real sauce.
I’ve had some good versions of that dish and some terrible ones eating of which was an absolute torture. What usually spoils stroganoff for me is overcooked beef or too much sour cream. And both on one plate are just too difficult to swallow.
I have seen recipes which call for cooking the beef in the sauce until tender, but this, with all the prior prep, can take even an hour and it turns it into a beef and mushroom stew, not a stroganoff. This dish can be both quick and delicious, and cooked from scratch, AND without the use of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup! Try my method and you won’t regret it!
My 30 min, boozy beef stroganoff doesn’t need canned substitutes
My boozy beef stroganoff should be served very warm, not steaming hot. Flash fry the raw beef (to medium rare at the most) while it is still in one piece and then slice it into slivers and return to the pan just before adding some of the sour cream. Most of the beefy flavour in the sauce comes from the beef stock anyway. And if you use flavoursome mushrooms like portobello, cremini or flat mushrooms, as opposed to white cup or baby button (almost the same thing with hardly any flavour), the sauce will smell and taste like Autumn forest after the rain and no canned soup can compare to that! Oh! One more thing: yes, you can skip the booze, but some Russians might get upset!
To me, freshly made is the best, but the leftover beef stroganoff (if there’s any) served on a slice of lovely, hot, buttered, wholewheat toast is just a pure joy and a treat. Sprinkle fresh parsley on the top and we have a feast again.
To keep that beef soft and pleasant in texture (as opposed to dry, tough and rubbery) avoid reheating your beef stroganoff leftovers in a microwave. The best effect is always to reheat it on low; stir your leftovers a lot to distribute the calm warmth evenly in that saucepan instead of leaving it to itself under the lid. I take it off the heat as soon as it starts to steam and I don’t let it boil and bubble.
- 350g raw beef steak/s (not precut strips), pounded to ½ inch thickness
- 350g mushrooms (portobella, flat, porcini or cremini - not the white cup or button mushrooms, please) - roughly chopped
- 1 large onion - roughly chopped
- 100 ml brandy, bourbon or whisky
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 4 garlic cloves - roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons all purpose, white flour
- 200 ml beef or veal stock
- ⅓ cup sour cream (and more of cold sour cream to serve over the plated dish if desired)
- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, leaves picked
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves
- Salt and pepper
- In a wide, deep pan, on medium heat, fry onions and garlic in 3 tablespoons of oil until soft (about 8 minutes). Add bay leaf, thyme, butter and mushrooms, mix well and simmer gently for 5 minutes before adding stock and alcohol. Allow to simmer uncovered for 12-15 minutes.
- While the sauce is cooking season your beef (pounded to ½ inch thickness) with salt and pepper and coat in flour.
- In another pan (wide enough, so it can fit all your meat), heat up remaining 3 tablespoons of oil. Now place your meat in the pan and flash fry it for no more than about 40 seconds on each side (to medium rare at the most!). Remove the meat onto a chopping board and let it cool and rest for about 5 minutes. There should still be a bit of blood running out of the meat - that is fine, it will cook further in the sauce. When rested, slice the meat into ¾ inch wide slivers.
- Turn the heat down to very low under the pan with with onions, mushrooms and the stock and add the sliced beef. Mix it all together and leave on very low heat for the duration of preparing the sour cream as follows:
- Using a ladle pour a bit of hot liquid from the sauce into a cup with sour cream. Whisk it with a fork until just combined and then pour it all back into the pan with your stroganoff. Stir it all well and remove the pan from the heat.