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How-To

Beef Stroganoff with a Fresh Twist

This updated version gets added flavor from porcini and cremini mushrooms and a lighter feel from crème fraîche

Fine Cooking Issue 57
Photo: Scott Phillips
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As you can probably tell by the name of my restaurant, Mother’s Bistro & Bar, home cooking is my thing. But sometimes I like to tweak a “mother” recipe by taking the basic idea, updating the ingredients, fine-tuning the recipe, and intensifying the flavors. My beef Stroganoff is a good example. Although the name sounds fancy, it’s a one-pan dish that takes well to a little variation.  

Beef tenderloin is traditional and works great for beef Stroganoff—I especially like it because it’s so tender and cooks quickly. But tenderloin isn’t necessarily the most flavorful cut. So, I bump up the flavor in a couple of other ways. I use earthy, intense porcini mushrooms to infuse the beef broth and to add texture to the finished Stroganoff. I use cremini mushrooms instead of regular button mushrooms in the sauté, because cremini contain less water and take much better to browning. Instead of finishing the sauce with the traditional sour cream, I prefer crème fraîche, which I find to be lighter, with a tangy, nuanced nuttiness.  

Once you’ve tried my version, have a go at tweaking it yourself. Oregon, where I live, is a mecca for wild mushrooms, so when I can get my hands on fresh chanterelles, oyster mushrooms, lobster mushrooms, or morels, I substitute those for the cremini. Other variations can be less exotic: Instead of beef tenderloin, try other quick-cooking meat cuts, such as chicken breast or pork loin. For a Hungarian version, add some paprika in addition to the salt and pepper, try dill instead of parsley, substitute tomato paste for Dijon mustard, and use the traditional sour cream.

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