Blue-Cheesy Venison Stroganoff

April 9, 2010 § 6 Comments

What I am about to present to you came as a twist on the traditional (whatever that means) beef stroganoff. Personally, I found this to be irresistibly delicious, and if you like tangy creaminess, oniony sweetness, and mushroomy earthiness (let’s just pretend for a moment that all of these are words in the English language), and, of course, beefy beefiness. this dish is for you!

So far I’ve made it twice – once with beef and once with venison. Personally, I prefer venison, which, I do believe, has a deeper, more complex flavor. Plus, I love to hear the gun go “bang.” Plus, a hunter clad in blaze orange traversing a green hayfield at sunset in early November is a vision. A mere flash of that magical color is enough to make me swoon… But I am digressing.

If you opt to use beef, I would recommend going with the tenderloin, but the cut of meat doesn’t have to be too fancy – note that I didn’t use the most attractive part of the buffalo here – just a few venison scraps I set aside at butchering time to grind later, most of them from the front quarter of the deer. But even if you are not using a fine cut here, you can still get the tender, buttery goodness out whatever’s in front of you – just be sure to rid it of all the connective tissue, cut it against the grain, and barely sear it in oil – just until the meat plumps up – keeping it pretty rare is your key to tenderness.

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Cut your meat against the grain into strips of about 1 to 1 1/2″ long and about 3/4″ wide. Dry well with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.

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Heat some oil in a skillet over medium heat.

UPDATE 9/23/10 A few months after writing this post, I purchased a fabulous, 5-qt stainless steel saute pan, and have been using it for this dish ever since. If you have one, then use that, or just use your enamel dutch oven.

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Sear your meat really quickly, turning all the time (a metal spatula with a sharp edge is good for this). Don’t wait for it to brown – especially if you are using a sub-par cut. Take the meat out as soon as it plumps up as in the picture above. Red inside is just fine. Red inside is what we want, assuming your meat came from a healthy animal.

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Now slice some shallots and onions (3 shallots and 1 small onion).

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Melt a good chunk of butter in a clean skillet in the same skillet, adding it right to the oil and beef fat, over medium-high heat.

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Add the onions and the shallots, plopping another chunk of butter on top. Cook, stirring frequently, for a bit.

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Meanwhile, chop a couple of garlic cloves,

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And add them to the onions as soon as the onions begin to turn translucent. Turn the heat down to low.

UPDATE: I now let the onions to begin caramelizing first.

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Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until everything looks like this (about 1 min). A bit burning is OK. It’s tasty, really!

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Now grab two large portabella mushrooms (or some other “wild” kind – I generally prefer to stay away from the white button ones because to me they don’t much in the way of flavor). Trim off the very bottom of the stem.

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Slice them thickly, and dump them on top of the onions in the skillet, adding, what else, another chunk of butter on top! Life’s not the same without butter.

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Reduce the heat to medium to medium-low, and cook them, stirring frequently, until they soften.

Did you see that I switched pans here, by the way? This is because, you see, while I find my cast iron skillets perfect for browning and caramelizing, they don’t fare well with the addition of acidic liquids and sauces, imparting a metallic flavor to the dishes. I get around this problem by transferring everything into an enameled dutch oven just before adding my liquids (sour cream and cream in this case).

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What you’ll get will be a bit on a thick side, so we are going to thin this with a bit of cream (enough to achieve your desired consistency). This step is optional, if you like your sauce thicker.

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Stir in the cream and add crumbled blue cheese (I always crumble my own) – I used perhaps twice as much as in this picture. Again, that depends on your blue cheese tolerance, as well as that of your spouse and offspring. Mine is HIGH. Theirs is… not so high. So I went kind of moderate here.

Note to the Viroqua shoppers: The Viroqua Food Cooperative carries two kinds of blue cheese – one made in Denmark (I believe), one made in Wisconsin. They usually carry either one or the other. At least as far as I can remember. Either way, keep this in mind: The Danish blue cheese tends to be more mild – so you can use more. The Wisconsin kind is much more sharp and aggressive – go gentle on that one.

Now’s also a good time to add a dash of lemon juice to counter-balance all that blue cheese a little, and season everything with salt and pepper.

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Now add the beef back in – but leave the juices behind. Stir in 2-3 T of parsley, and you are done! Serve over egg noodles. Or, if you have none, heck, just serve it over spaghetti.

Sofya’s Blue-Cheesy Stroganoff

  • beef or venison (the finer the cut, the better), cut against the grain into strips of 1 to 1 1/2″ long and 3/4″ wide
  • 3 shallots, sliced (or use another 1/2 onion, if not available)
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 T minced parsley, for garnish
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter
  • 2 large portabella mushrooms (or substitute your favorite variety), bottom of the stems trimmed, the rest sliced thickly
  • 1 pint-size tub sour cream
  • 1/3 to 1/2 C heavy whipping cream or half’n’half (optional, if you want runnier results)
  • a dash of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Lightly brown the meat in oil over medium heat until the meat has plumped up – don’t wait for it to actually turn brown. Take it out immediately and keep warm (or don’t), approximately 2 min.

Add some of the butter to the pan and saute the onion and shallots in butter until they begin to caramelize and turn golden-brown, scraping the bottom with a flat wooden spatula if you have one. Add garlic, and cook, stirring frequently, for a minute. Add mushrooms and some extra butter, and saute until the mushrooms have softened, a few more minutes. Stir in sour cream, cream, and blue cheese. Add a dash of lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Add the meat back in and sprinkle with parsley (you can heat everything through at this point, but be careful to not overcook the meat). Serve over egg noodles.

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