Writing and photography by Graham Duncan
Creamy, tangy beef stroganoff’s heyday may have been the mid-twentieth century but, based on what we hear across the counter, there are still lots of people cooking it in the early twenty-first century.
The really fun part of doing this recipe was being able to use an all-Sanagan’s shopping list thanks to our new selection of specialty and imported ingredients. And here’s the thing — you get what you pay for. I made this dish twice; once with bulk store paprika and supermarket sour cream and then again with our Spanish Chiquilin Bittersweet Paprika and Sheldon Creek Sour Cream. Day and night! The bulk store paprika has a one-note, chalky, charred red pepper taste. The Chiquilin has a layered, blooming flavour with an emphasis on the bitter. Its finish is long, tasting not unlike a quality Mescal (seriously). The supermarket sour cream (14% milk fat) has four different emulsifiers/ stabilizers listed as ingredients. Our Sheldon Creek sour cream (8% milk fat) has only two ingredients: whole milk and bacterial culture. It’s thicker, creamier and packs way more of a sour punch.
The stroganoff was further improved by our La Molisana Egg Nest Pasta which, like a sitcom dad, is firm yet yielding, and the piquant garnish of Viniteau Cornichons.
The following recipe is mostly lifted from Pierre Franey’s New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet (1979) cookbook which is a fantastic collection of unfussy French-American recipes and techniques. My major variation is the meat. Beef tenderloin, stroganoff’s traditional cut, is a wonderful steak but experience at the store proves many customers are looking for more affordable alternatives.
My first go at the dish featured top sirloin which emulates the gentle flavour and fine grain of tenderloin. But through the dish’s two-part cooking process, I found the sirloin got a little stiff. My second attempt utilized flat iron which was more tender but its broader, more mineral flavour was unmistakable. My wife votes for strog-sirloin-off. I vote for strog-flat iron-off. Either way — yum!
If you’re serving this over noodles, as photographed, you may want to increase the quantities of both the sour cream and the wine slightly, just to sauce things up a bit. Or serve with the noodles, rice or fried potatoes on the side. Once you’ve done all your preparation, the whole dish only takes about seven minutes to cook, so make sure you’ve got your sides timed accordingly.
1 lb beef steak cut into stir-fry-sized strips. If using flat-iron, flank etc., be sure to slice across the grain.
1 tbsp paprika
to taste salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup cornichons finely diced
- Measure sour cream into a medium-sized bowl and bring to room temperature. (Approximately two hours.)
- Blend together in a bowl the beef, paprika and salt and pepper.
- Heat a large frying pan on medium-high heat. Add oil. Sauté the beef, stirring frequently. Try to ensure that all surfaces get a nice sear. This should take only two to three minutes. If your pan isn’t big enough, cook the beef in two stages. Crowding the pan will stop the beef from browning. Transfer the meat to a warm plate.
- If the pan appears dry, add a little more oil, and fry the onion, stirring, for one minute.
- Add the wine and reduce by half.
- Remove pan from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
- Blend contents of the pan into the bowl of sour cream, stirring gently to create a sauce.
- Return sauce and the beef to the frying pan over low heat, gently warm the stroganoff. Here is where you need to decide how hot you want to serve the dish. If you’re like me and have been raised on the possibly provincial idea that hot food has to be HOT, you may cause the sour cream to separate. If this happens, don’t worry, it’s still going to taste great. But if you can embrace a warm stroganoff, it’s going to be creamier.
- Serve as desired and garnish with diced cornichons.