The Awesome Way to Make Beef Stroganoff

The first two months of 2014 saw a lot of food waste in my house. It really pains me to say so. But in my defense, I was spending a lot of time throwing up. Oh, the joys of the first trimester of pregnancy! It hasn’t been as easy this time around as far as morning sickness goes.

I kept grocery shopping as normal at first, but then found myself totally incapable of cooking or eating. My hubby stepped in and kept himself alive for the most part, but we don’t necessarily shop/cook the same way, so the fridge still became a waste land of rotten food. And there was a lot of take out. One day, directly after throwing up, I had a sudden craving for Indian food. I sent my hubby and son on a walk to our local Indian restaurant to pick up curry, and proceeded to eat it for dinner that night, and breakfast and lunch the next morning. Since it was the only thing I kept down, I sent them back out for more. I’m terrified to look at the accounting for January and February.

Anyway, I’m almost back to normal and have been trying to get back into the habit of cooking dinner every night, but I haven’t really gotten back into the grocery shopping habit yet. For dinner tonight I had some leftover pot roast beef (leftover on my plate after eating leftover pot roast yesterday) and I was pretty sure there was a bag of mushrooms in the bottom drawer of the fridge that either desperately needed to be used or had gone bad long ago. I knew exactly what to make – beef stroganoff!

When I pulled the brown paper bag out, I found the mushrooms were totally dried and woody. It was like a visualization of what had happened to my culinary prowess over the past few months. But, they also looked a whole lot like the dried mushrooms being sold at the grocery store. What harm could it do to throw these in some water and see what happens? They perked right back up!

There’s probably a correct way to make stroganoff. I’m sure Cooks Illustrated has done extensive research. This is not the correct way to make stroganoff. It’s the awesomely cheap and easy way to make dinner with whatever you’ve got.

My philosophy regarding what cut of meat to use for beef stroganoff is use whatever leftover beef you have. Every time I make flank steak, pot roast, whatever, I chop up the leftovers for beef stroganoff. Come to think of it, chicken stroganoff doesn’t sound so bad either!

Then I chop up onion and mushrooms. To make stroganoff I need at least one of these “essential” ingredients. If I’m out of mushrooms, skip ‘em. Today I’m out of onions – so stroganoff without onions! I tossed this with powdered garlic instead of fresh just because it was easier. Saute it til soft in butter, then set aside.

While that sautes, dredge the meat in flour separately. I use a little bit more flour than is necessary so that it’ll make a decent gravy. I melt a couple more tablespoons of butter in the pan, and then throw in the meat and flour til I’ve got a nice roux. Toss the onions and mushrooms back in the pan, and make sure all of the flour is mixed up without clumps before adding broth. Or, if you’re out of broth, do what I do – water and MSG a bullion cube! I use about 2-3 cups of water, enough to make a fairly thin gravy. Let this simmer on low for a little while, occasionally stirring while it thickens a bit, and then stir in about half a cup of sour cream for some tangy deliciousness.

I usually serve this with frozen peas either cooked on the side, or stirred right into the stroganoff.¬†Tonight I’m serving this over rice because we’re out of noodles and I didn’t feel like making mashed potatoes. I’m really the picture of domesticity right now. I cooked in my PJs. Because I didn’t get dressed today.

Cook a little extra to take to work for lunch, serve in a pasta bowl, and then glare at your husband until he says it’s delish! Voila, dinner is served.

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