In my household, Beef Stroganoff is both a comfort food, and yet more than worthy of serving to guests, including my diet-friendly version. I had never eaten or made this dish until about 15 years ago. My first version was loosely based on one considered fully “Core” for Weight Watcher’s former Core Plan, now the Simply Filling Plan. I’ve since reworked this recipe from its simpler version, to one that wows both my husband and I. I’d like to share this recipe in this post. Though my current version would not be considered fully “Core” anymore, it is still quite low in calories and fat compared to a full fat version. To make it a full-fat version, the only necessary changes would be in the type of beef, sour cream, and maybe broth used.
I doubt anyone knows the exact original recipe that the Russian Count Stroganoff’s French chef made in the mid-19th century. We do know that it was delicious enough for chefs and cooks to rework the recipe for over 200 years. If you look online, there are various versions made throughout the world, but the base dish nearly always contains beef, onions, mushrooms, broth/stock, and some kind of cream (sour cream, creme fraiche, or plain cream).
I’ve seen Beef Stroganoff recipes with and without paprika, with or without tomato paste, using white wine, brandy, or no wine at all. Some may or may not include herbs like thyme and/or bay leaf. They could include mustard, horseradish, Worcestershire sauce, or even pickles, depending on the tastes of the cook’s origin. I’ve heard of a Chicken Stroganoff, but I probably won’t make that. It’s likely good, though.
I use an economical cut of beef (lean bottom/top round), but some recipes call for sirloin, or even tenderloin. I buy pre-cubed beef for convenience, but bigger pieces can be either cubed or even cut into small thin strips. Medium cubes or strips help save cooking time, allowing me to make my recipe in about two hours or less. We love the taste on the day it is made, but it’s a dish that even improves the next day (or two) when reheated.
Almost any delicious mushroom can be used in this recipe, though I highly recommend fresh over rehydrated dry. I usually use Cremini or Baby Bella mushrooms, because they are widely available in my stores. Champignons, Chanterelles, or many other types of mushrooms would be great. Standard white mushrooms would also work.
Beef Stroganoff is a dish that allows cooks to modify ingredient amounts according to taste. For that reason, I’ve listed a range for some ingredients. Below the recipe I’ll provide approximate nutrition information for a “lightened” version. I’ll leave it to you to calculate (or not) a fuller fat version. This information will be based on 6 servings. For very hungry eaters, plan on 4 servings, or increase recipe amounts by about 25%. The beef cubes may need to be browned in two batches, though I managed in one in my medium-sized Dutch oven.
Beef Stroganoff – My diet-friendly version
Serves 4 to 6
- 1 ½ pounds (0.7 kg) lean beef in medium-size cubes (preferred) or strips
- Fresh ground pepper, to taste
- 1 Tbs canola oil (other fats may increase calories)
- 1 large onion (or more), roughly chopped
- 1 Tbs sweet paprika (I use Hungarian)
- 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
- Optional: 1 tsp caraway seeds
- 2 cups (~500 ml) 99% fat free beef broth (or regular, for more calories)
- 8 to 12 oz (240 to 340 g) fresh mushrooms, roughly chopped (I use 10 oz)
- Optional: 1 to 4 Tbs regular brandy or Cognac (Start with 1 before increasing. I use 3 Tbs.)
- ½ to ¾ cup fat free sour cream or regular, for more calories. I use 3/4 cup fat free.
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped, for garnishing
Cube beef into medium-size cubes. Pepper to taste.
In a soup/stew pot or medium Dutch oven with lid, heat 1 Tbs oil over medium to medium-high heat. Carefully add beef cubes and cook (not stirring) to sear first side. Stir to brown other sides, being careful not to burn. If liquids form, cook some off before adding onion. Stir onions with beef cubes until onions soften.
Add herb(s) and spice(s) to beef mixture. Stir in over low heat for almost a minute. Add beef broth until it just barely covers all the meat in the pot. Scrape caramelization/goodies from sides and bottom of the pot. Bring to a simmer, and simmer, covered, for about 1 hour, or until beef is almost tender. Check mid-way and add a bit more beef broth (or water) if the liquid level reduces noticeably.
Add mushrooms and optional brandy to beef mixture and return to a simmer. [Note: The brandy should not overwhelm the taste of the broth. It should only accentuate it.] Cover, and cook for an additional 10-20 minutes, or until beef cubes are just tender, but not falling apart.
The liquid level in the pot should now be slightly below the top of the meat level. If not, turn up the heat to a moderate boil, and uncovered, boil off a little bit of the liquid. There should be sufficient liquid left that when sour cream is added, it provides plenty of sauce for six portions (see photo at top of post). A little more broth or sour cream may be added, if necessary. Remove from heat and cool mixture for at least 10-15 minutes.
Add sour cream to Beef Stroganoff, and if desired, adjust seasonings. When almost ready to serve, reheat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture just barely starts to simmer. Serve with either pasta (regular or whole wheat wide egg pasta recommended), potatoes, or dumplings, and steamed green veggies or salad. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Approximate nutrition information calculated by MyFitnessPal (based on 6 equal servings) for “Lightened” version:
289 calories, 10.5 g fat (2.9 g saturated fat), 11.8 g carbohydrates (1.3 g fiber), 11.1 g sugars, 36.9 g protein, 66.7 mg cholesterol, 1,097.2 mg sodium