Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Beef Stroganoff

Recipe modified by Gretchen Wilson – October 27, 2010
For a commentary-free and printer-friendly version of it, please click here.

Recipe originally published in myRecipe.com daily e-zine “Dinner Tonight”.

Slow cooker meals ROCK!  Now I’ve said it before, but I’m a little scared of turning on my slow cooker and leaving the house all day, so even though I own several different sizes of slow cookers, I rarely make anything in them.  One day, I had some heavy cleaning and laundry to accomplish and knew I wasn’t going to be in the mood to cook (or probably find the time) when I was done, so I decided to go the slow cooker route.  It was just before Halloween and we had suffered a major storm (anyone remember those winds) that brought in the first true cold weather of the season.  I found this recipe from MyRecipes.com to be the perfect blend of comfort and cold weather food.

My finished product:

Picture published with recipe:

© MyRecipes.com

It tasted as good as it looks.  My meat shredded when I scooped it out, but that was because it was so tender.  My stroganoff also had more gravy on it, but I can’t say that I was disappointed about that.  I had a happy accident while cooking that probably changed the flavor a little bit, but more on that later.  Even though you can’t tell from the pictures, there was one major issue I encountered while cooking this recipe.  The original recipe doesn’t include egg noodles in the ingredient listing.  I know how difficult it is for recipe writers to get every little detail correct, but this is what you would call a MAJOR COMPONENT of the dish.

for more details about what my ratings mean, go to Gretchen’s Rating System

MessEH – Minimal slicing (only shallots) but you have to brown the beef first, which can be messy and of course you have to whisk and pour the juice into the slow cooker.  There is some potential for a gigantic mess, but luckily I escaped without too much.

Start-to-Finish Time: ALL DAY – but that is the nature of the slow cooker.  The actual assembly of the dish takes you under a half-hour.  MyRecipe.com says 15 minutes, but that can be pushing it, especially when it comes to peeling and cutting shallots, since they can be a little tricky.  Give yourself 30 minutes around lunch and you’ll be having delicious Beef Stroganoff by 6 o’clock.

Prep Work: SLIGHT BLOOD LOSS – shallots, although tasty, can be really tough to work with.  They have a very thick skin that needs to be removed and the shallot themselves are oddly shaped and difficult to lay flat while you slice.  I buy my mushrooms pre-sliced to eliminate having to prep those as well.

Ease of Recipe: COOK IT IN MY SLEEP – literally.  You can actually turn on the slow cooker head back to bed.  That aside, you have to brown beef, sauté vegetables and mix sauce.  Dump it all in a slow cooker and you’re done until you cook some noodles.

OverallSORRY HONEY, NO LEFTOVERS – I’ve made other beef stroganoff type dishes (and there will be more postings on them), but I really liked the kick of the paprika of this one.  I’ve already made it a second time which is saying something since I have a lot of recipes to try, not to mention a lot of slow-cooker recipes.

Recipe Information:
Time estimates are from the original publisher of the recipe, not the length of time it took me to create it.  Look for my comments below.  Nutritional Information is based on original recipe.  Any changes I make to reduce the caloric, fat, cholesterol or sodium content are not reflected in the Nutritional Information.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 6 hours
Servings: 4

Nutritional Information (not including the egg noodles)
  • Calories 492
  • Total Fat 34g (Saturated Fat 14g)
  • Cholesterol 129mg
  • Sodium 1mg
  • Total Carbohydrate 6g
  • Fiber 1g
  • Protein 37g

As I said above, I would probably estimate 30 minutes to get the dish ready for the slow cooker, especially if you are slicing mushrooms.  They aren’t difficult steps to complete, but there are enough that you will be rushing, and you don’t want to rush when you’re slicing vegetables.  I think you can absolutely get 4 servings out of this dish.  Start with a light salad and then pair the stroganoff with crusty bread (Italian or French) to soak up the extra sauce.

Changes denoted by red text

¾ teaspoon salt (plus more to season to taste)
¾ teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons paprika
1½ pounds beef stew meat, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced shitake mushrooms (6 oz.)
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1½ cups low-sodium beef broth
½ cup fat free sour cream
Wheat egg noodles
Cooking Spray

Ingredient Notes:
Salt & Pepper – There’s nothing really that needs to be noted except that the amounts were hidden in the recipe.  I just pulled them out so you have an idea of how much you’ll need (helpful if you’re running low).

Beef Stew Meat – as I learned from Beef It’s What’s For Dinner stew beef is usually a round or chuck cut of beef prepared in 1” cubes.  If you can’t find any already cut, you can buy a round or chuck roast and cut it yourself.  Hopefully they’ll have some ready for you though because who wants to do that?!?  Remember to use a non-wooden cutting board to cut the meat and cut it separate from your vegetables (totally different cutting board & knife if possible).

Olive Oil
  • This recipe called for vegetable oil, but olive oil is a healthier alternative.
  • You might be wondering if you should you use your really expensive extra-virgin olive oil or not.  Since it is not the focus of the dish and is used as a cooking medium, don’t waste your good olive oil stash.  The cheap(er) stuff works just fine.

Shitake Mushrooms
  • These mushrooms (pronounced she-TAH-kay) have an earthy flavor and can mimic wild mushrooms – this does not mean you should substitute wild mushrooms though.
  • If you can’t find Shitake mushrooms, the recipe gives you the option for white mushrooms.  I opted to cook with shitake since they have a little more flavor than white.
  • If you can find them, buy the pre-sliced mushrooms.  It will cut a lot of time off of your prep time if you do.

  • You’ll find these near the onions and they often will be sold in bags, but sometimes you can buy them by the shallot.  They look like tiny brown onions, have a garlic-onion flavor, and have a thick papery skin that you’re going to have to discard before cutting.  Trust me, it doesn’t taste good and picking them out of the slices is a pain in the butt.
  • Can’t find shallots?  You can substitute green onions (white part only), 1 small onion and some garlic.

Fat Free Sour Cream – To help cut the calories, I substituted fat-free sour cream  for the regular.  I’m not sure how many calories or how much fat is cut from this substitution, but any little bit helps!

Wheat Egg Noodles
  • You’ll find these usually on the bottom shelf of the pasta aisle, but since they are Chinese in origin, you can also find them in the Asian section of your grocery store.  I opted for a wheat version, but you can use the regular if you would like.
  • If you don’t like the taste of egg noodles or want to eat wheat pasta but can’t find wheat egg noodles, you can also use fettuccine, linguine or spaghetti.

Cooking Spray – It isn’t in the original recipe because it doesn’t call for the small cooker to be greased.  I always use it on my slow cooker since the juices will cook on the sides of it for 6 hours or more.

Equipment Needed:
Cutting board
Sharp knife
Large skillet or Dutch oven
Large spoon
Slow cooker
Large bowl
Large sauce pan
Wooden spoon

Equipment Notes:
Large Skillet/Dutch Oven – If you are using a large skillet, make sure it is large and deep because you will be stirring liquid with vegetables.  If you don't have a large and deep skillet, use your Dutch oven.

Slow Cooker – Make sure you have a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker.  Anything smaller will not be able to hold the meat and sauce.

(1)  Sprinkle salt, pepper and paprika all over beef.

So here is where my boo-boo comes into play.  The original recipe instructed you to use only 1 teaspoon of the 2 teaspoons of paprika.  I dumped it all in and I didn’t realize my mistake until I had put it into the slow cooker.  So I left the paprika out of the sauce and kept going.  The result was beyond good!  The meat had a delightful tang to it and a little bit of bite.  In fact, when I made it the second time, I did the same thing.

(2)  Warm oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook beef, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer meat to a lightly-greased slow cooker.

(3)  Add mushrooms and shallots to skillet; season with salt and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.

(4)  In a large bowl, combine beef broth and sour cream with a whisk, pour into pan with mushrooms and shallots, and cook for 2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan.

(5)  Pour mixture over beef in slow cooker, cover and cook on low until beef is tender, 6 hours.

(6)  As it nears the time for the beef to be complete, cook the egg noodles as instructed on the package and drain.  Serve with beef.

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