As many of you know, Steve and I are in the process of trying to sell our house in Phoenix and planning a move back to his hometown in Kansas. As a result, I am struggling to share recipes with the same regularity as in the past. I hope you will forgive the intervals between posts over the next few weeks or couple of months until everything settles back down.
Before I send you into carb shock, let me explain the plating. Brazilians traditionally serve beef stroganoff with both fries and rice. I don’t know how it started. But I can tell you that crispy thin fries are amazing with this dish (think poutine without the cheese curds). And the rice helps soak up the deliciously rich sauce. For me, though, it must be the Brazilian-style white rice, not just plain steamed white rice.
In Brazil we usually serve stroganoff with”batata palha”, which are very, very thin, crispy fries. The name translates into “straw (as in hay straw) potatoes”. The closest name here in the US for a similar potato preparation is matchstick fries. Because I was short on time, I went with some frozen shoestring fries, getting them nice and crispy.
I may have previously mentioned that I did not like mushrooms growing up (yes…I have learned the error of my ways and now I ADORE them), and that my dad would not allow my mom to cater to the kids’ finicky ways. Growing up, this is the dish that I believe mom made with the most mushrooms. To avoid drama at the table, she would cut the mushrooms and the meat into similarly sized cubes to sneak the mushrooms by. Never worked. I always found them. But I had to eat them anyway.
The stroganoff most Americans are used to is usually made with sour cream, beef broth, no tomato, and is served over wide, flat noodles. The Brazilian version includes cognac (or brandy), takes two types of tomato product, uses heavy whipping cream, and no broth at all. And again, it is served with both rice and fries.
Because the Brazilian beef stroganoff was the version I had for the first 10 or so years of my life, I actually prefer it to the classic stroganoff served here in the US. Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the American version. I like it just fine. But the Brazilian beef stroganoff reminds me of home and my mother’s cooking. Plus, crispy fries and fluffy rice too? I’ll take those over noodles any day!
let’s see how to make Brazilian beef stroganoff
And because the picture got kind of full, you also need…
Disclosure. I cube the meat for this dish. But in Brazil, they usually cut it in thin, short strips. I don’t know why I cube it like mom used to when I no longer need to hide the mushrooms. I guess cubing the meat makes it more reminiscent of mom’s version. Just make sure to keep the meat in bite-sized cubes or thin strips to make it easier to eat.
I REALLY recommend heavy whipping cream. Regular whipping cream will make a runnier sauce.
Season the meat with salt and pepper before you begin to brown it.
You can use a very large skillet or a Dutch oven to brown the meat. A large skillet is nice because you can brown the meat all at once, whereas when I use a Dutch oven, I brown the meat in batches. That is because you don’t want to overcrowd the meat in the pan.
The meat should be lightly browned in a bit of olive oil in a pre-heated pan over medium heat, just a couple of minutes per side. If you crowd and stack the meat in a Dutch oven, it will sweat. Then it will take the extra liquid a while to cook off before the meat starts to get a nice brown color. That can make the meat a little tough. So, I cook the meat in about 3 batches, transferring each batch to a bowl until I’m ready to add the meat back in.
Why not just use the skillet? Because skillets are shallower. The oil tends to spray more and I sometimes spill sauce out of the pan onto my cooking surface when stirring the pot. That’s why I prefer a pan with deeper sides. I find it easier to brown the meat in a couple of batches than to have to perform a heavy cleaning on my cooktop.
This is my third batch. See that caramelization in the pan? That is REALLY important for flavoring the sauce.
And note that the meat is lightly brown. You don’t have to sear it.
Transfer the browned meat to a bowl and reserve.
Add a bit more olive oil to the bottom of the pan and sauté the onion and garlic. Use the olive oil and the moisture released by the onion to deglaze the pan as much as possible.
Cook just until a bit softened and aromatic. And aromatic is right! Yum, the house smells so good right now!
Then add the tomato paste and ketchup. Stir to distribute well.
Then add the browned meat, Worcestershire sauce, cognac, and mushrooms. Stir to get everything nice and coated in the tomato base.
By the way, the cognac really does add some essential flavor to the dish. If you don’t consume alcohol or are worried about feeding children, don’t be. The alcohol cooks off.
Then add the heavy cream.
You will also want to add salt and pepper to taste at this point. Heavy cream will take the sauce to the sweet side, but ketchup, tomato paste, and Worcestershire each carry quite a bit of salt. So, adjust the seasoning as needed, being sure to taste to get it just right.
Cook for about 10-15 minutes more, stirring frequently. That will allow the cream to heat throughout and absorb the colors from the caramelized meat and tomato products. The result should be a beautifully rich-looking, rust-colored, slightly thickened sauce.
Then plate it to your liking. This is a traditional Brazilian plating. But if you want, you can start with a base of rice, topped with some fries, and covered in the luscious stroganoff.
See what I mean about that beautiful, rust-colored sauce? Just thick enough not to be too runny, but still smooth and soupy enough to soak into that beautiful rice. Boy, if the house smelled good when I was cooking the onions and garlic, you should smell it now! Every ingredient in that decadent sauce comes together in both flavor and aroma to pull you in.
People, you just have to try this Brazilian beef stroganoff! There is nothing that tastes quite like it. Served nice and hot, it is comfort and over-the-top flavor for a lunch or dinner on a chilly day.
Tender, beefy bites, with the gorgeous, gentle hint of earthiness from the mushrooms. Covered in a sauce with so many layers you’ll want to use a spoon instead of a fork. So savory and so rewarding! There is no way to describe it with any degree of justice. You’ll just have to make it and see for yourselves!
Brazilian Beef Stroganoff (Estrogonofe de Carne)
- 5 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 pound top sirloin steak cubed or cut into thin, short strips
- 16 ounces white button mushrooms sliced
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 large cloves garlic diced
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tablespoons cognac
- 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- Pre-heat a large skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat.
- Lightly season the meat with salt and pepper.
- Pour three teaspoons of olive oil into the heated pan and begin browning the meat. Do not sear.
- Lightly brown, about 1-2 minutes per side. If using a Dutch oven, brown the meat in batches to prevent crowding.
- Transfer the browned meat into a bowl and reserve.
- Add two more teaspoons of olive oil to the pan, then add the onion and garlic. Stir and sauté, trying to deglaze the pan as much as possible. Cook just until lightly softened and aromatic.
- Add the ketchup and the tomato paste and stir to distribute.
- Then add the browned meat, the Worcestershire sauce, cognac, and mushrooms. Stir to coat evenly.
- Add the heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Then cook for an additional 10-15 minutes to heat the cream through, slightly reduce and thicken, and to allow the sauce to take on a rich, rust color.