Beef Stroganoff is a popular dish that originated in Russia but spread to all four corners of the world. Like with any recipe of such popularity it’s subject to differ from one place to another. Still most people will agree that Beef Stroganoff includes beef of course, onions, white mushrooms, and sour cream or Smetana ( a Slavic dairy product that is somewhere between sour cream and heavy cream). Now the first problem is what kind of beef to use? I’ve read my share of recipes and discussions about the matter and it seems that people use all cuts from chuck to sirloin, and even tenderloin as some argue that’s the cut Russian Czars preferred. I became so desperate that I decided to go straight to the source, and searched for stroganoff recipes in Russian, translating everything into English. To my surprise most of the recipes I found on various Russian sites didn’t use beef, but pork. That is when I decided to experiment while trying to find the perfect cut for Beef Stroganoff. The result is Flank steak!
Flank steak is perfect for Beef Stroganoff, as it packs a ton of flavor and has the right texture that the strips will melt in your mouth but won’t fall apart while cooking in the sauce.
What you want to do first is take two cups of beef stock or chicken stock and put it into a pot and set the heat to low. This is the pot you’ll be cooking your Beef Stroganoff so make sure it’s big enough. Then cut up the beef (1 1/2 pound flank steak) into 1/3 to 1/2 inch strips, sprinkle with salt, add some crocked pepper, and about a tablespoon of oil, mix together and set aside (you don’t need to refrigerate it consider it will only be few minute before you starts cooking it).
Now you have to preheat the pan, and chop up one large onion, and about a pound of mushroom (you can use less or more based on preference). At this point I place the cast iron pan on medium heat to preheat it before I start chopping the onion and mushrooms, but if you’re using a nonstick pan or even aluminum pan you might want to chop the onion and mushrooms first. The key is to use the biggest pan/skillet you have with little to no oil. I’m using a well-seasoned 12 inch cast iron skillet, and it works great.
Now after you cut up everything, it’s time to start cooking. Place about 1/3 of the beef strips inside the hot pan. The key is to not overcrowd the meat and depending on your pan size this might be more or less than 1/3. After a minute or so quickly flip the strips so the other side can brown for a minute or two as well. Then transfer the meat to the pot with the simmering stock, and continue to brown the rest of the beef.
Once you’re finished with the meat grab 2 tablespoons of butter and place it on the hot pan. As the butter is melting throw in the chopped onion, mushrooms and change the heat to medium. Add a pinch of salt and cook until all of the water evaporates and the onion and mushrooms are soft (10-15 minutes).
Once the onion and mushrooms are soft add a tablespoon of flour, mix and cook for another minute. Then turn the heat to its lowest setting, or just turn it off and add 1 teaspoon of paprika, mix quickly so it doesn’t burn, and add either one cup of water, one cup of beer, or a mix of 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup white wine and bring it to a boil. This will deglaze the pan and make sure you get all the good stuff. I simply used water this time.
After that’s done transfer everything from the pan to the pot with the beef, mix, cover and let is simmer on the low setting for 3 hours. Now I know what you’re thinking, 3 hours for beef stroganoff? But trust me, the low and slow method works great as it will blend all the flavors perfectly and make the beef nice and soft without destroying its texture. You can cook it for less if you don’t mind or even prefer tough beef, but don’t try to cheat and use a bigger flame because you’ll end up with a shredded or pulled beef and not strips.
It’s time to finish of this Beef Stroganoff with style. Mix 3 tablespoons of sour cream, 1 tablespoon of corn or potato starch, and a cup of water. Pour that in and let it simmer for few more minutes until the sauce thickens. This will create a quite amount of sauce, but my wife and I both like our Beef Stroganoff saucy. If you prefer a less and more hearty sauce just add sour cream and possibly a teaspoon of starch as it’s important to add that starch which will prevent the sour cream from curling up. If you’re not sure, you can always start with adding less, and go from there. Now all you have to do is add salt and pepper to taste and if you like a teaspoon of dried marjoram or dried thyme.
Enjoy, and you’re probably have left over but it tastes even better the next day!
Here it is with beet salad, and boiled potatoes.
Another from the side.
1 1/2 pound flank steak
1 large onion
1 pound of mushrooms
2 cups of beef stock or chicken stock
1 cup of water
1/2 glass of white wine and 1/2 of water, or 1 glass of beer, or simply 1 glass of water
3 heaping tablespoons of sour cream
1 tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon of paprika
1 tablespoon of corn or potato starch
1 teaspoon of dried marjoram or thyme
Salt pepper to taste
- Pour the stock into a large pot and set on low heat.
- Cut the beef into strips mix with little bit of salt, pepper and oil and set aside.
- Preheat large pan or skillet.
- Chop up the onion and mushrooms.
- Brown the meat, and transfer to the stock.
- Melt butter, fry the onion and mushroom (10 -15 minutes)
- Add flour and cook for a minute, lower heat, add paprika and the liquid of your choice.
- Transfer everything to the pot with the beef, cover, and simmer for 3 hours
- Mix water, corn or potato starch, sour cream and add to the pot.
- After the sauce thickens add salt, pepper, dried marjoram or thyme to taste.