Shameless Chef

The Shameless Chef: Mock Stroganoff

I know I usually celebrate the major holidays by cooking something related, but I couldn't think of anything for New Year's that didn't involve some kind of horrifying corned beef / black eyed peas / boiled cabbage combination, so I finally settled on a much simpler type of stroganoff.

Normal stroganoff is a pain in the dick. You have to get a certain kind of beef, cut it and cook it a certain way, then mix together a fairly complicated sauce that's easy to screw up (especially for yours truly). Well, there's a much simpler recipe that still comes out pretty damn tasty, and if someone you serve it to disagrees, get that food-snob prick out of your house before he starts sauteéing things.

You will need:

• 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey. I used ground turkey this time, because "Ground Turkey" is a great name for a white funk band. • 1 8-ounce container of sour cream • Noodles, rice, or orzo. I prefer noodles, but whatever, it's up to you. You know what, it would probably be good with gnocchi. Hm. I'll have to try that sometime. • 1 can of cream of mushroom or cream of celery soup. I prefer cream of celery, since mushrooms are one of three foods that make me vomit instantly. (The other two are greens [mustard and collard] and asparagus.) • 1 can of beef broth. • 2 tablespoons of flour. This is optional.

Get your big-ass pasta pot out and dump the broth and cream of whatever soup in there. If you use a condensed soup, make sure to add a can of water. Whisk it together while keeping it on medium heat. Once it's mixed, I like to go ahead and add some of the pasta (about 3/4 of a bag). The flavor inundates the pasta better if you let it boil in the mixture, and it saves time. Who the hell wants to pre-cook pasta? Talk about a time-suck. Have the heat up high enough to boil the noodles for a minute or two, then lower the heat to a simmer.

Now that you've got the sauce and noodles heating up, time to brown the meat. You've done this before -- just dump the meat on the skillet and heat it up 'til it's not pink anymore. You can add some garlic, if you happen to have some handy, as the flavor goes well with this dish.

Now, the sour cream. Put it in a bowl and mix it with the 2 tablespoons of flour. The flour is chiefly for consistency, so if you don't have any, don't sweat it, your stroganoff will simply be runnier than it would otherwise. Hey hey now, don't beat yourself up about it. Come on, it's only us Shameless Chefs here, who are we trying to impress?

Drain the meat, if there's any juice; I used lean ground turkey, so there really wasn't. Dump the meat and the sour cream in with the noodles, stir it up, let it sit for a few minutes, and enjoy. Diplomacy tip: If anyone in your family doesn't like sour cream, you can set it aside so everyone can add it to taste. The stroganoff is actually still pretty good without it.

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John Seaborn Gray