What Is Ground Beef Stroganoff?

Eugene P.

Ground beef stroganoff is a version of the classic Russian stroganoff dish that uses pre-ground beef instead of strips or cubes cut from a fillet. The ground meat is frequently used instead of strips because it is more economical or because it cooks faster and has a different texture. The meat is cooked in stock along with onions and mushrooms moistened with beef stock and sometimes wine or vinegar. The ground beef can be purchased to make the meal easier to prepare and serve, so shortcuts with the remaining ingredients also are often used, such as adding canned soup mixes or powdered spice blends. The completed meal is finished with sour cream to form a rich sauce and then served over egg noodles or white rice.

Pre-ground beef can be used in place of beef cubes for stroganoff.
Pre-ground beef can be used in place of beef cubes for stroganoff.

One difference to note between the preparation of ground beef stroganoff and the more traditional version is that ground beef will dry out quicker than cutlets will. It also will not form brown areas where the meat has caramelized. To add flavor and moisture to the beef, more liquids in the form of beef stock, wine or water are used. The resulting ground meat tends to be very flavorful and the end dish has a thick, abundant sauce as opposed to the version using fillet strips, which may have only a thin coating of the sour cream on each piece.

Sour cream is used when making ground beef stroganoff.
Sour cream is used when making ground beef stroganoff.

The first step in most ground beef stroganoff recipes is to saute the onions and beef in a pan with butter or oil. If fresh mushrooms are being used, then these also are added and cooked until they have released much of their water. Beef stock is then added, along with spices such as thyme, and the mixture is allowed to simmer until the flavors have combined.

If any premade products are being used, they are added to the ground beef stroganoff and allowed to reduce to develop their flavor and remove any raw taste. Some common shortcuts are to use condensed cream of mushroom soup, condensed chicken soup, or even packets of powdered gravy mix to help add the flavor of roasted meat to the dish. Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup or tomato paste also can be added.

Once the meat is coated in the ingredients and everything has cooked fully, the sour cream is added to the pan. The beef is ground, so the sour cream will form more of a sauce than a coating. It also is possible that the sour cream could break, separating in the pan when first added. Broken sour cream will eventually pull back together into a smooth sauce as it cooks.

When completed, ground beef stroganoff is usually served over cooked egg noodles or rice. This helps to capture the sauce and to cut into the otherwise heavy meal. Crispy fried onions, fried garlic or potato sticks also can be served on the side to complete the entree.

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