Beef Stroganoff–One of Many Shades of Grey

I believe I have mentioned before a rather classic battle with my mother. She strongly believes I need to work on my presentation because “people eat first with their eyes.” Subsequently, when I moved, she bought me a whole new set of white plates because “white plates show off the food best.” She also very frequently will put cilantro or some other green leafy herb on food just so it looks nice. You would never guess from her dishes that she actually hates the color green. Don’t believe me? Take a peek at some of her creations from earlier Feasts of Seven Fishes:

I rest my case.

Now what’s ironic is that one of her FAVORITE DISHES OF ALL TIME is beef stroganoff, which is quite possibly one of the ugliest dishes ever created. It’s supposed to be grey. You take meat, cook it half to death, add mushrooms and sour cream, and pour it over pasta. If you were feasting with your eyes, you’d think you were in the opening scene of Oliver! and would probably start singing “Food, Glorious Food”.

But apparently my mother is not alone in loving this dish. So does my eating buddy in the Big Rock Candy Mountain. And I decided, “How hard can it be to make grey food?” and hence this recipe.

One mistake I made: I bought “Lite Sour Cream”. I have no clue why I decided to go healthy on the sour cream when the rest of the dish is a caloric nightmare; it’s the culinary equivalent of a ditzy sorostitute ordering a Long Island with diet coke. But here’s the point: lite sour cream has an almost crumbly consistency. So while it’s very intelligent to let the sour cream come to room temperature before dropping it into something hot (to avoid curdling), it’s not really going to make that much difference when the sour cream is already crumbly. Thus, even for grey food, this looked fairly gnarly.

But the greater point is it tasted…like it wasn’t grey. It was amazing. So…ENJOY!



  • London broil
  • White onion
  • Garlic
  • Button mushrooms
  • Salt and pepper
  • Beef broth
  • Butter
  • White wine
  • Sour cream (I recommend against lite sour cream. Definitely have at room temp too.)
  • Pasta


  1. Make pasta. Set aside.
  2. Cube London broil, season with salt and pepper, and in batches sear it in butter in the pasta pot.

    In no danger of running out of meat.
    In no danger of running out of meat.
  3. Deglaze the pot with white wine and cook the garlic and onion until the onion starts to weep.
  4. Add the mushrooms and a dash of beef broth. Cook down the mushrooms and try to reduce the liquid.
  5. When you’re very close to serving, throw the beef back in and add the sour cream.
  6. Pour over pasta to serve.

    It's dark, but I promise you: the food is grey.
    It’s dark, but I promise you: the food is grey.

2 thoughts on “Beef Stroganoff–One of Many Shades of Grey

  1. it looks like pretty classic to me. and i’m a fan of flat parsley…not because it’s green but because it is good and good for you and adds a bit of freshness to the sauce (i put it in just before serving, not sprinkled on top. Usually I think of stroganoff with noodles. and am always surprised that some of the more heinous looking creations are so yummy…i think even of cassoulet, a different shade of gray, that to me is the epitome of comfort food but was created as a way to avoid having garbage, for lack of a better way to put it. if you really want to make it fancier, use homemade, not machine rolled, noodles. i love following your food exploits and figured i’d warn you i will be making moose stroganoff with my cooking class sometime within the next week or so.

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