Beef Stroganoff is a perfect dinner party dish – inexpensive and easy to prepare yet rich and luxurious. History reveals a simple but elegant dish that, somewhere along the line, got gussied up with tomato paste, Worcestershire, and even canned cream soup. It’s time to lose the add-ons and go back to basics. This recipe is close to the original save for one ingredient: mushrooms. Like most Stroganoff lovers, I can’t imagine the dish without them.
- Wash and drain mushrooms. Slice stems off flush with the cap, then cut stems into quarter-inch disks and slice caps into quarter-inch slices. Place the mushrooms in a lidded pan, add a half cup water, put the lid on and turn the heat on low. Cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mushrooms are done when they are firm but still plump. This can be done ahead of time, but do not discard the liquid.
- Combine honey, mustard, and 2 tablespoons of hot water. Stir well and set aside.
- Trim fat from the meat. Place trimmed fat in a skillet over low heat and let it render it slowly.
- While the fat is rendering, cut onion in half from root to stem, then slice into thin half-rings.
- When the fat has rendered, discard the unmelted chunks. Increase the heat to medium and add onion slices to the skillet. You will probably need to add a bit of oil as well, just enough to keep the onions from sticking to the pan.
- While the onions are cooking, slice the meat into very thin strips. Cut strips longer than 3” into shorter pieces.
- Push the cooked onions to one side of the skillet, raise the heat to high, and add a bit more oil. Stir-fry the strips of meat until they are just cooked. This will only take a minute or so.
- Turn off the heat. Add the broth from the cooked mushrooms (but not the mushrooms themselves) to the skillet. Add the honey-mustard mixture and stir to thoroughly combine. Put the lid on the skillet and let it season at room temperature for at least 15 minutes, but an hour is even better.
- About 15-20 minutes before serving, begin reheating over medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Five to 10 minutes before serving, stir in the mushrooms and the sour cream. Do not let the Stroganoff boil or you will loose the satiny, creamy texture that makes the dish special. If you would like a thinner sauce, add a bit of broth or milk.
In researching Beef Stroganoff, I’ve seen recommendations for all sorts of things to serve it with, including kasha, egg noodles, fried potato straws, rice, and my personal favorite, mashed potatoes with chives. When I was growing up in Minnesota, my mother served it with wild rice, and I can vouch for the goodness of leftovers on buttered toast points.