When I was a kid, my mom would make stroganoff all the time. And I loved it.
I loved that pile of cream of mushroom soup, sour cream, and ground beef poured over piping hot egg noodles. Or rice. Just… on top of carbs of some sort.
Sometimes, when Dad cooked, we would have stroganoff with steak instead of ground beef. Also delicious.
It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized that stroganoff can actually be a much more refined food with depth and more complex flavors… Not that the food I ate as a kid wasn’t good… like I said, stroganoff was something I LOVED it. But we didn’t have a lot of money when I was a kid, and both my parents worked, so a can of soup, a container of sour cream, and a pound of ground beef was inexpensive, easy, and filled everyone up.
A while ago Chris and I went to dinner and I saw one of my favorite comfort foods on the menu – stroganoff! Yessss!
I’d never seen stroganoff on any menu before (maybe I don’t get out much, I don’t know), but I was thrilled! And I was in a mood where I really needed something hearty and comforting in my belly. When it came, it was a bit of a letdown. Overall, it was a little too salty and the sauce was too thin and there wasn’t enough of it. I was disappointed that something I thought I would love so much was served to me with immense potential (under the salt I tasted a little acidity and the definite presence of thyme – two things I never had in the stroganoff of my youth), but was overall… not that satisfying.
After having a bite of my dish, Chris leaned across the table and said “You know what? I think you can make this… but better.”
I rounded up my ingredients (sans canned soup), and after several attempts, I refined my recipe. It’s got the creaminess I love with the heartiness of thickly-cut mushrooms (I usually use baby bella mushrooms), a bit of acidity, a little bit of heat from the cayenne pepper, and tons of flavor. This recipe quickly became a staple in our house, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!
Note: I use stew meat because it is an inexpensive cut and, because the I cut the meat up it cooks in the sauce for a while, it becomes fairly tender. Feel free to use whatever cut of beef you prefer. This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of sauce.