After the holiday season, the winter doldrums can really set in, and this year is particularly tough since these days so many indoor events and activities are either not happening or are happening online.
It should come as no surprise that one of the ways I am trying to make the best of the situation is by putting more variety into the dinner rotation. I hadn’t made Beef Stroganoff in a while, and decided it would be perfect for a cold winter night, and yet it’s still much quicker than a long-simmered stew.
For this reason, it’s important to use a fairly tender cut of beef. I used sirloin tips, cut perpendicular to the grain into thin strips. I’ve often seen beef cut for stir-fry in the meat department at the supermarket, and that would probably also work, and would make the prep time even faster. Also to shorten the prep time, feel free to use sliced mushrooms. There certainly are advantages to cutting vegetables yourself — better control of the size and shape — but there are days when every shortcut helps.
One of the ways I create shortcuts for another time is how I store unused portions of ingredients. For the tomato paste in this recipe, you can easily measure out a tablespoon if you keep a tube of it in the fridge. But when I open a can and only use a little, I spoon the rest into a sandwich bag, press it flat, and store in the freezer. Then the next time I need just a tablespoon, I just break off a frozen chunk. (And, yes, that means I’m kind of guessing on the amount, which, in most cases, will be fine.) Also, if you have opened a carton of broth, you can freeze the rest in half-cup containers, and then you’ll have some pre-measured to defrost next time you need it!
EASY BEEF STROGANOFF
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 pound sirloin tips or other tender cut of beef, cut across the grain into strips
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil, plus more if needed
1 medium onion, chopped
8 ounces sliced mushrooms, preferably baby bellas
1 teaspoon sweet paprika, or more to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup beef or chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
Mix the flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in a shallow pan or on a plate. Add the strips of meat and toss to dredge.
Heat the butter and oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, until butter is fully melted. Take the pieces of meat from the flour, shaking off any excess, and add to the pot. Brown the meat and remove to a bowl. Try to get most pieces seared on both sides, but you need not be overly precise about checking every piece.
Once all the meat has been removed to a bowl, add the onion and mushrooms to the pot with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and begin to sauté. You may need to add an additional tablespoon of oil if the meat and flour have absorbed too much. Keep an eye on the bottom of the pot and adjust the heat if any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot begin to brown too much.
Once the onion is soft and beginning to brown and the mushrooms have cooked, add the paprika and tomato paste to the pot, and stir to cook for about a minute. Add the wine and deglaze the pot, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom. Add the broth and the Worcestershire sauce, mix to combine, and return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pot.
Bring the pot to a simmer, and cook for 5 to 10 more minutes, until the meat is cooked. The length of time will depend on how large the pieces are.
Add the sour cream and warm through, reducing the heat if necessary to keep it from boiling. Serve with buttered egg noodles, or something else to soak up the sauce.