Monday, February 15, 2010
Lazy-Ass Cooking: Beef Stroganoff
stro•gan•off |ˈstrôgəˌnôf; ˈstrō-|
a dish in which the central ingredient, typically strips of beef, is cooked in a sauce containing sour cream.
For clarity's sake, the “beef” included in the Campbell's soup is in chunks and not in strips. Beef is beef, at least the kind I'm talking about here.
So what I'm going to put here is a quasi-recipe, more of a menu suggestion, if you will.
Start out by pouring some water into the bottom of an electric frypan. I just sort of eyeball it as I hoist the unwieldy 2.5-gallon container of bottled water and let 'er splash. Just enough, not too much. I'm a Lazy-Ass and I don't want to have to drain the noodles/macaroni/pasta when it's done.
When I get what I think is a good amount of water in the bottom of the electric frypan I throw in an unspecified amount of salt. I just shake some into my palm and dump it in. It always works out. The right amount comes naturally when you've spent years as a Lazy-Ass Cook.
When the water finally boils, drag yourself away from Facebook, Twitter, or reading entertaining blogs and add the noodles/macaroni/pasta, whatever you want to call it, and whatever shape you want; elbows, shells, fusilli, bowties, spaghetti, you get the point. Purists may use wide flat noodles as with traditional stroganoff. But I must warn the stroganoff purist right now that the next step might just make you throw away a whole pan of noodles so do read ahead. Specific amount? Riiiiight. Again, I just sort of eyeball it. Years of being a Lasy-Ass has paid off in knowing just the right amount to add. It's no big deal, add too much pasta, add more water. Add too little pasta, cook uncovered, dip water out, or drain it when it's cooked. If it were that exact of a science, I wouldn't be cooking it.
Go back to your Facebook, Twitter, or whatever because the pasta will take anywhere from 6-12 minutes to fully cook. Just don't forget you're cooking something. Pasta should never set off the smoke alarm. You might as well do something to entertain yourself while it cooks because it will never cook if you stare at it.
I like to put the lid on while the pasta cooks, mostly because I don't use a lot of water and I'm trying to keep some of that in, also, I don't want to add any humidity to the ambient air that might make my tortilla chips (not used in this recipe) go soggy.
Pasta/macaroni/noodles cooked to your liking? Great. That's the hard part—unless you're a purist and I'm getting to that. Get yourself a can of steak & potato soup. Campbell's makes it, but you might just come across an equivalent store brand of the same flavor that works just as well (not only am I a Lazy-Ass, I'm a Cheap-Ass too). I say steak & potato because it's just that; steak, potatoes, and the Campbell's even has bonus mushroom slices which also belong in stroganoff dishes! Also the savory beef broth/sauce is already in there. It's all good.
Okay, purists, listen up. I just mentioned potatoes. Everyone knows that potatoes don't really belong in stroganoff. At this point you can just pick them all out. I don't care what you do with them because I prefer to ignore tradition and leave them in. They add texture and I‘m a Lazy-Ass.
Open the can of soup and dump it in over the noodles. This is also a good time to add cooked hamburger, leftover beef strips, extra mushrooms, etc. Poke around in your freezer you never know what you'll find once you brush the frost off.
Let this good stuff simmer together for a few moments, stir it around and enjoy the aroma of a hearty meal. The next thing you'll add is sour cream. Regular, lite, fat-free (well, I'm not sure about the fat-free). Use about 1/2 cup. No, I don't measure a half-cup, I eyeball it and give it my best guesstimate. Stir this around as well. Don't get too overambitious because you'll slosh it out onto the counter and you'll have to clean that up too.
When it's heated through, serve it up in paper bowls with plastic spoons gathered from Wendy's the night before when the Lazy-Ass wasn't into cooking at all.
Up Next: Make a meal with random sh*t from your freezer…