Friday, March 13, 2009

Healthier Beef Stroganoff


I was talking on my mom to the phone this evening when she offered to bring me some chicken soup. You may or may not recall, but I have a cold. A bad cold. A cold so bad abd miserable that it could very well be, well, a man cold. Can I please get someone to give ME a little bell, rub my head, and say "poor little bunny?" Please? hello? Hm.

Anyway, she offered to bring me some soup, but when I told her that I had just bought a ton of stuff to make beef stroganoff because I had to have some, she dissolved into laughter. Back in the day, one sweltering August night when my mom was 40 weeks pregnant with me, my due date actually, she woke up in the middle of the night and HAD TO HAVE BEEF STROGANOFF. And well, pregnant women have craved crazier things. So she got up, in the middle of the night, and started cooking. And cooked for hours.

An then she went into labor.


And she kept cooking. There was NO WAY she was going to go to the hospital without finishing that stroganoff. She didn't even tell my dad she had gone into labor, because if he knew he would, I don't know, take her to the hospital? Because she was having a baby? I guess she just really wanted that stroganoff.

I never knew about that story, but I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree: since I have been pregnant I have suddenly been hit with crazy beef stroganoff cravings, even though I haven't had it in years and years. In fact, the last time I had this dish I didn't even like it: It was heavy and starchy and flavorless. It was the epitome of heavy 1950's cooking, with big chunks of meat paired with heavy starches and fats. No veggies. No flavor. No complexity.


This recipe is different. It's an updated version of the old classic and it packs a lot of punch. In the old days you used a big chunk of cheap meat and braised it for hours to tenderize it, then you slathered it with sour cream and plopped it on top of some egg noodles. Here we use a more tender cut, but we use less meat and more mushrooms, and we sear it quickly. The sauce is really rich and complex. It's so good I almost want to forgo the meat altogether and make this vegetarian. And finally, I am serving it over whole grain brown rice noodles with broccoli. Gluten-free, and better for you!

Now let's just keep our fingers crossed that I don't go into labor the next time I make this!


Healthier GF Beef Stroganoff

Adapted from Bon App├ętit
Serves 4 - 6
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes

Ok! You will need this stuff:
You need 1 lb brown rice fusilli (or other small curly noodle) 1 lb broccoli florets, 1 lb baby bella mushrooms (or other small brown mushroom, such as crimini) 3/4 lb tender beef such as tenderloin, 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), a yellow onion, fresh dill, beef stock (use GF vegetable stock if you can't find GF beef stock), sour cream, dijon mustard, and congac.

I have this problem where I forget to put stuff in the picture. So please, don't forget the congac. It's like a secret weapon. Get a baby bottle if you have to, or you can substitute sherry or vermouth. But really, this ingredient MAKES the sauce.

Ok! First, prep your ingredients. This dish cooks fast, and you will be very sorry if your onions are burning while you are quartering a lb. of mushrooms. So!

Cut the mushrooms into quarters. Really big ones can be cut into slices.

Chop up 1/2 of the yellow onion

Now salt and pepper your beef, and trim off any excess fat.

And slice into small pieces, about 1" - 2" long.

Heat 2 tbs of butter in a heavy skillet, until the butter bubbles and froths, and just starts to get golden. We want it hot. Then add the beef in a single layer. You don't want the pieces touching. Cook in batches if you have to.

Cook the beef until one side has just browned, then flip the pieces over. You want them to be caramelized on the outside, but only medium on the inside, so it stays tender. Once they are browned on both sides, remove the beef from the pan and set aside in a bowl or on a plate.

Add 2 tbs butter and the chopped onion to the pan. Scrape up any browned bits left over from the beef. Cook for 2 minutes, until the onions are golden. Then add the mushrooms. The mushrooms will begin to release their water. Let cook until the water has mostly evaporated, about 14 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil, and cook the noodles until al dente. I like to throw the broccoli in during the last 2 minutes of the cooking the noodles. Strain, and add 4 tbs of butter.

Mix it all up, and set aside.

By now our mushrooms have simmered down. Let's add 1 cup of beef stock. If you can't find any GF beef stock, it's ok to use vegetable or chicken.

Now for the SECRET INGREDIENT. It's cognac. It's SO GOOD. Please don't skip, if at ALL possible. Really.

Let the broth and cognac boil down until the sauce just coats the mushrooms, about 14 minutes.

Now add 3/4 cup sour cream and 1 tbs Dijon mustard. I was going to use yogurt.

But I chickened out.


Remember the beef we made? Add it into the sauce now.

Top with 1 tbs chopped dill. Let sauce simmer a bit to warm up the beef, but not TOO long. We want it to stay tender.

Serve atop of the buttered noodles/broccoli.



  1. Looks great! Will have to try this one before it gets hot, and then I will be chowing on the salads. Is that a cast iron pan you were cooking in??

  2. Just thought I'd stop over and say hello - I saw your comment on 101 cookbooks and wanted to check out your GF blog (which is awesome)! I love all of the pictures you have for each step. And that beef stroganoff looks delicious.

  3. Thankyou Lauren!

    Stuffcookswant, that is a cast iron pan. I know it's bad for the pan, but it's hard to beat the even cooking it give you!

  4. This dish looks fantastic. A really good stroganoff is hard to beat. And, what a fantastic way to use cognac! Love the story on your mom (and you ... right before you came into the world). Just found you via Cake and Commerce (which I found via tastespotting). I thought I knew most of the gluten-free blogs, but I am glad to see there are some wonderful surprises left for me. :-)


  5. I go to your blog first before I go to I'm addicted lol

  6. I just found your page while looking for a more delicious Stroganoff recipe. Your looks great! How much cognac is actually used? Is it 1 or 2 tablespoons?

    I have peeked at some of your other recipes and will definitely be trying them. I love to cook, but I always try to use the best recipe I can find. I think you have them.

    Maureen in Montreal