Saturday, May 13, 2023

Stroganoff And How To Get The Most Out Of Your Mushrooms

Whenever I have extra sour cream in the house, I like to make Stroganoff.
I think of Stroganoff as a mixture of cooked mushrooms and onions, sprinkled with a little flour, deglazed with sherry and turned into a truly delicious sour cream sauce, with or without protein. I always serve it over egg noodles, and, for some reason, I always have to make this wonderful medley of cooked-forever red cabbage, onions and apple

I use lots and lots of mushrooms. That's probably the hardest part of this recipe - slicing all those mushrooms!  But they cook down so much that I never regret using them all. Sometimes I add beef or chicken. (To me, the protein is kind of incidental.) 

The main flavor of this dish comes from sweating the onions till they’re soft, soft, soft. And then cooking the mushrooms as all good mushrooms like to be cooked - on a medium high heat without stirring until they’re browned (initially without salt, which inhibits the browning). The hardest part of this recipe is slicing all those mushrooms. It seems like too many, but they do cook down a lot.

Here are my top mushroom tips:
-Slice mushrooms evenly.
-Don’t crowd the mushrooms in your pan, but don’t use one that’s too big either. Too small a pan and the mushrooms will steam instead of brown. Too big and you’ll get hot spots in the pan, which will burn the mushrooms.
-Don’t add salt until the mushrooms are browned. Salt will draw out moisture, (which is exactly what we want when softening onions, but not cooking mushrooms).
-Stir well to coat the mushrooms nicely with whatever fat you’re using.
-Cook the mushrooms undisturbed on medium high heat. Don’t stir! When one side is nicely browned, turn them and continue cooking for about 6 minutes total. They should be browned and there should be some liquid in the pan.
Stroganoff (serves 4)
(Today I’m making it with chicken)
Note: If you're leaving out the chicken or beef, just skip those steps in the recipe.
1 big onion, chopped
2 tbls. olive oil, divided
2 tbls. unsalted butter
1 ¼ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into strips
1 ¼ lbs. boneless beef rib eye, tenderloin or sirloin, cut into strips
16 oz. mixed mushrooms* - white, crimini, shitaki
2 tbls. flour
½ cup dry sherry
2 cups stock
1 tbl. Dijon mustard
1/2 – 1 cup sour cream (I use it all)
Handful of parsley, finely chopped
12 oz. egg noodles
2 tbls. unsalted butter
Add onion to large frying pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Cook on medium heat until you hear a sizzle. Cover** and turn down heat to low. Cook until soft, maybe 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove to small bowl.
Add chicken or beef to same frying pan with remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cook on medium high heat for a minute or two on each side until just browned. Remove to plate. (The chicken or meat will cook more in the sauce.)
Melt butter in the same frying pan. Add the mushrooms and stir well. Cook on medium high heat (no salt yet) for about 6 minutes, until they brown and they begin to throw off some moisture. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.  

Sprinkle in flour and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on low heat, stirring all the time. Turn up heat to medium high and stir in sherry. Bring to the boil, stirring. Stir in stock gradually. Stir in mustard and simmer on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in sour cream and parsley.

Add back in chicken or beef with all the accumulated juices. Simmer for 2 minutes until the sauce coats a spoon nicely and the chicken is done (the beef will be). Taste for seasoning.

Cook egg noodles in salted water. Drain and toss with butter and a big pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve separately or place egg noodles in wide bowl. Top with Stroganoff. Garnish with parsley. 
*Even if you have mostly white mushrooms, try to add in at least a handful of cremini mushrooms. They add a lot of flavor.
**If your frying pan doesn’t have a lid, just use the largest lid you have when cooking the onions. It doesn’t matter if it rests on the inside of the pan. You’re trying to create some steam, which will help the onions soften without browning.

Red Cabbage with Onions and Apples (serves 4)

1/2 red cabbage

1 onion, peeled and sliced

1 tbl. butter or oil (Using at least a little butter adds a lot of flavor and richness, even if it’s just a teaspoon)

1 green apple, peeled, cored and sliced thinly

1 tbl. red wine vinegar

2 tsps. sugar

Big pinch of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cut the red cabbage half in quarters. Slice thinly crosswise. Blanch in a pot of boiling salted water for one minute after the water comes back to the boil. (The water will turn blue, which is really fun). Drain the cabbage.


Add onion to medium saucepan with butter and/or olive oil. Cook on medium heat until you hear a sizzle. Cover and turn down heat to low. Cook until soft, maybe 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add apple and cabbage with red wine vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Stir well and cook, covered, over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes. Turn down heat to low. Cook, stirring occasionally for one hour.


Note: If you need the red cabbage before an hour, cooking it for 45 minutes is okay. And if you have more time, 90 minutes is also okay. You basically can’t overcook it. And cooking it the day before is just fine. Reheat in the microwave.