Signature Mainstay Beef Stroganoff

I spent years searching for an exceptional Beef Stroganoff recipe that did not use canned soup as a base ingredient. However, of all the many options floating around the internet, I tried most of them, and they were all disappointing. They weren’t bad, but they weren’t good, either.

Until I found Vikalinka. She’s Russian, so she knows stroganoff! Her traditional recipe is so good, it has earned a place as a Mainstay Signature recipe. It’s a regular in our dinner rotation, and I always lick the spoons and skillet while washing the dishes after dinner.

The secret ingredient: brandy! I highly recommend using a VS (very special) cognac, and invest in a decent brand (such as Courvoisier VS Cognac). Expect to spend $20-25, available at your local grocery store, and it’s worth every penny. The flavor it lends to this sauce is phenomenal!

You’ll notice it also calls for tenderloin, which is a lean, more expensive cut of beef. Yes, you can use cheaper, precut strips to save time and money. But I would highly recommend you try this recipe with the tenderloin. The tenderness of the meat adds something special to this incredible dish.

NOTE: Russians traditionally don’t thicken their stroganoff and always serve the thin sauce over mashed potatoes. However, since I’m an American raised on knock-off dishes like Hamburger Helper, I always thicken my sauce with cornstarch and served it over egg noodles.

TIPS: Get your pan screaming hot before searing the steak; you want those dark brown bits! Don’t skimp on the salt; the dish needs it to balance the sour cream. Also, don’t skip the bay leaf or mustard. They make a big difference to the final flavor profile!

Beef stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff
(Original recipe: Vikalinka)

2 TBSP butter
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 lb beef tenderloin, cut in strips
1/4 C brandy
1/2 C beef stock
1 bay leaf
1 tsp whole grain mustard
1 C sour cream
1 TBSP fresh chives, chopped
Dash of parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat butter in a heavy skillet; cook onions and mushrooms over medium-low heat until soft. Remove and set aside.

Turn heat up to high; add steak strips to the same skillet and quickly fry over high heat. Make sure the pan is screaming hot; you want to sear the steak.

Add brandy; deglaze the pan, scraping up all the brown bits of flavor on the bottom. Simmer until alcohol burns off.

Add stock, mustard, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Return mushrooms and onions to the pan; cook until everything is heated through and bubbling.

Stir in sour cream, chives, and parsley.

(If you wish to thicken the sauce, add in a slurry of 1 TBSP cornstarch and 1 TBSP water at this point. Fold it into the boiling sauce, stirring as it thickens.)

Remove the bay leaf; serve immediately over egg noodles or mashed potatoes.

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