The year was around 1994. We were a group of young college graduates and sorority sisters excited to begin our careers, marry, start families, and we were about to enter a period that would go on to change the culinary landscape forever.
The Food Network had just hit the air and it was a pivotal moment. We were exposed to expert chefs that taught us how to elevate our cooking in ways we never imagined. From simple to fancy dishes, we became eager to host our friends for dinner and enjoy this new culinary adventure together.
The recipes seemed to become fancier over time, or maybe we just got better and took on more challenging dishes, either way we loved it, and it was how things were now being done. From complex Julia Child’s recipes to Thomas Keller, and Martha Stewart to Ina Garten, it was a magical time.
Shortly after graduation, I attended a dinner party hosted by a dear college friend of mine. She was a newlywed and could cook like an angel. It was an amazing dinner full of exquisite food and style. I thought that was how dinner parties were supposed to be done as the years went on. She set the bar high and I loved it.
Then I walked into May’s house. It was my first time in her home and I was excited to attend her dinner party. She was quite a few years my senior with grounded roots. May was a friendly woman and hosted a delightful gathering. While I cannot tell you all the things she served at her dinner party, I can tell you her main course was Beef Stroganoff.
This was the moment my perspective towards food changed forever. I realized that food is more than just a feeling of being satiated, but evokes meaning and emotion, like love and nurture. No one served Beef Stroganoff at dinner parties during this era, except my May.
Among all the fancy dishes, dished up among the best hostess, here was May’s humble Beef Stroganoff, and dare I say, the most memorable dish I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying at a dinner party. Not because the other dishes weren’t excellent, they were all absolutely fabulous and delicious, but because May’s Beef Stroganoff was simple comfort food, and in that precise moment she served more than just food, but all the love that comes along with it.
While I never did get May’s recipe, I went on to create my own. I serve it today with all the love May served with hers, and I hope you’ll elevate Beef Stroganoff to the main course at your next dinner party, and in the process surprise someone with all the love that comes along with it.
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon sweet Hungarian Paprika
- 2 ½ lbs boneless sirloin steak cut into 1 inch cubes
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter divided and melted
- 3 packages (8 oz each) sliced fresh mushrooms
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 teaspoons garlic minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 3 cups beef stock
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 lb Egg Noodles cooked for serving
- Chopped fresh chives or parsley optional for serving
In a large ziplock plastic bag, mix together the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Add cubed beef and shake until coated with flour mixture.
Heat 6 tablespoons butter in a large heavy nonstick or iron skillet over medium high heat. Remove beef from ziplock bag, shaking off excess flour, and add beef to pan. Brown quickly on all sides, about 8 minutes, remove from pan and set aside.
In the same skillet adjust the heat down to medium and add the remaining two tablespoons of butter. Add the onions, mushrooms, and garlic. Cook until onions are translucent and the mushrooms have softened, making sure not to burn the garlic, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside with the beef, (I like to add them to the same bowl as the beef).
To the same skillet add the white wine, scrape up all the brown bits, turn the heat up to medium high and bring to a slight boil, reduce wine by half. Stir in the beef broth, tomato paste, and Worcestershire sauce, mix well. Bring stock up to a slight boil and then add the beef, onions, and mushrooms back into the pan, along with any accumulated juices. Give it a good mix, reduce the heat to low and cover. Simmer for 1 hour or until meat is very tender. Stirring occasionally as needed. While the sauce is simmering prepare your Egg Noodles.
Once the sauce is done and the beef is very tender, place the sour cream into a large measuring cup. Begin to temper the sour cream by ladling a little bit of the sauce into the sour cream at a time, whisk until smooth, (try to scoop out just the liquid, leaving the beef and mushrooms in pan). Repeat the process until enough of the liquid has been incorporated into the sour cream. Slowly add the tempered sour cream mixture back into the pan, mix well, and simmer on low until warmed throughout, (do not bring to a boil). Adjust any seasonings, and salt and pepper to taste, (I usually need to add more salt and pepper at this point).
Serve over cooked Egg Noodles. Sprinkle with chopped parsley or chives, (optional). Enjoy!