One of my favorite recipes on this site is our beef stroganoff made with strips of top sirloin that have been fried in butter. In the recipe several commenters offered their takes on the dish, including making it with ground beef instead of top sirloin strips.
The main advantage of ground beef is clearly budget, and if worked properly you can also have wonderful flavor. First, get ground chuck. Chuck is the shoulder cut of beef, the shoulder muscles being well worked from the grazing action of the steer. More muscle action equals more flavor, and a tougher cut of meat. Chuck is notoriously tough as a steak (ask my father who used to try to cook chuck steaks in his poor bachelor days), but one of the most flavorful parts of the animal. Grinding the meat tenderizes it, but the flavor is still there.
Second, take the time to properly brown the meat. In other words, don’t stir it! Just let it cook, on relatively high heat, until well browned, before giving it a stir. The browning is what gives you the flavor. Use the cooking of the onions and mushrooms to scrape up any of the browned bits, and deglaze the pan to get the rest.
It’s also important to salt while you cook. If you get to the end of this recipe and it’s dull, it’s because you haven’t salted it enough. Experiment with the spices if you want. A little ground nutmeg can give it a lift, as well as tarragon.
Hamburger Stroganoff Recipe
You can substitute the sour cream and lemon juice for a cup of full-fat plain yogurt (room temperature). Do not allow to boil.
- 1 lb ground chuck
- Salt and pepper
- 1 yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms (can substitute button mushrooms), sliced
- 1/3 cup of dry sherry, dry white wine, or water
- 1/2 cup chopped parsley, loosely packed
- 1 1/4 cups full fat sour cream (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika or more to taste
- 8 ounces egg noodles
1 Put a large pot of salted water (1 teaspoon salt for every quart of water) on to heat, for the pasta.
2 Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat. Melt 1 teaspoon butter in the pan and swirl it around. Sprinkle the bottom of the pan generously with salt. Working in batches as not to crowd the meat (crowding it will make it hard to brown), break up the ground beef and add it to the pan. Sprinkle the meat with salt. Do not stir the meat, as stirring will prevent browning. Once the meat is well browned on one side (a couple minutes, depending on how hot the pan), use tongs or a fork or a metal spatula to flip to the other side. Once that side is browned as well, use a slotted spoon to remove from the pan and set aside. Continue to brown the meat in batches, adding a teaspoon of butter to the pan with each batch if needed, and salting the pan and the meat, until it is all browned. Remove meat from pan. Drain excess fat from pan.
3 Lower the heat to medium. Add the onions to the pan. If you are working with very lean meat, you may not have any residual fat in the pan. If this is the case, you'll want to add in a tablespoon of olive oil or butter to the pan. Cook the onions, scraping up the meat drippings, until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove onions from the pan (add to the meat).
4 Depending on the cooking times of your particular brand of pasta, this is likely a good time to add the pasta to the (should be now) boiling, salted water.
5 While the pasta is cooking, add a tablespoon of butter to the pan, increase the heat to medium high. Add the sliced mushrooms. Sauté until nicely browned (about 4 minutes). Add the sherry (or dry white wine or water) to the pan to deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Let the sherry reduce by at least a half, then lower the heat to low.
6 Remove the pan from the heat. Mix in the sour cream and paprika until smooth. Return the pan to very low heat, and not let the sour cream boil (or it may curdle). You may add a few tablespoons of water to the mixture to thin it out a bit at any time. Stir in the lemon juice, and about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of salt (taste). Stir in the meat and onions. Stir in the chopped parsley. Add more salt, pepper, and/or paprika to taste.
7 Keep the stroganoff on warm heat until the noodles are done cooking. When the noodles are ready (al dente) drain.
Serve the stroganoff on top of egg noodles.
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