Stroganoff the old-fashioned way, or your way

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Dan Bolyard/courtesy photo Stroganoff can be made with as much – or as little – regard for tradition as you like.

Stroganoff was named after a 19th-century Russian diplomat, Count Paul Stroganov. It traditionally contains thinly-sliced beef tenderloin or top loin, onions and mushrooms, all sautéed in butter and combined with a sour cream-based sauce. I’ve seen it served with both noodles and rice, but the noodles are better.

My first run-in with stroganoff came from an old Betty Crocker cookbook. There were actually two recipes, both okay. In looking back, I have made variations on both, but neither is the most traditional way to make the dish.

The simplest in terms of ingredients is the most classical way. The difference is in the way those ingredients get cooked. Imagine taking all the ingredients and dumping them in a pan to cook, versus following the procedure. You get the idea. Also, each cook might do things a little differently. Like I have said before, I never make the same recipe twice the same way. I’ve come to the point where I fully brown the meat in a hot pan, versus just cooking it through. Maybe you like the chunks of beef cooked rare then stirred in at the end. I also will cook the mushrooms well, as I don’t care for them in their squishy state. Now if the mushrooms were only quartered, I would not cook them thoroughly. I always fiddle with the seasonings, or cooking techniques to fit the current situation. The last time I made the recipe I included a bit of heavy cream and oyster sauce, just to see if that was a good variation. The recipe is only a guideline. Do what works best for you. Just taste it before serving to make sure it is edible.

LESS TRADITIONAL BEEF STROGANOFF

1 pound ground beef

1 medium onion, chopped

1/4 cup butter

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 (8-ounce) can mushroom stems and pieces, drained

1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

2 cups hot cooked noodles

In a large skillet, cook and stir ground beef and onion in butter until onion is tender. Stir in flour, salt, garlic, pepper and mushrooms; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in soup; simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream. Heat through. Serve over noodles.

A LITTLE MORE TRADITIONAL BEEF STROGANOFF

1 pound sirloin steak, about 1/2 inch thick, cut into 1/2 inch strips

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 1/4 cups water

2 tablespoons ketchup

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons flour

1 cup sour cream

3 to 4 cups hot cooked noodles

Melt butter in large pan. Add mushrooms and onion; cook until onion is tender, then remove from pan.

In same pan, cook meat until light brown. Reserving 1/3 cup of the water, stir in remaining water, ketchup, garlic, and salt. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Blend reserved water and flour; stir into meat mixture. Add mushrooms and onion. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Reduce heat. Stir in sour cream; heat through. Serve over noodles.

EVEN MORE TRADITIONAL STROGANOFF

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

2 large onions, thinly sliced

3 1/2 cups thinly sliced small button mushrooms

2 1/4 pounds beef tenderloin, cut into small cubes

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

1/2 cup heavy cream

Salt, pepper, or other seasonings, as desired

Heat the oil and half of the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat and fry the onions until translucent. Add the mushrooms and fry until they begin to soften, 2-3 minutes. Remove the onions and mushrooms from the pan with a slotted spoon. Add the rest of the butter to the pan and heat until beginning to foam. Add the steak and sauté quickly over a high heat until browned on all sides, 3-4 minutes. Return the onions and mushrooms to the pan, and stir and shake to mix with the meat. Sprinkle with the parsley, then pour in the cream and cook for 1 minute longer. Adjust seasonings well before serving.

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