Classic beef stroganoff took the United States by storm in the 1950s, though the ground beef and sour cream concoction served by housewives today bears little resemblance to the simple and elegant original dish. Making beef stroganoff is not difficult, even if you use the more authentic cubed beef instead of strips or ground. Most recipes call for the meat to be braised, which makes it tender. But, if you want to absolutely ensure tender beef stroganoff, the best way is to marinate the beef overnight, sear it and then braise it.
Pour a little bit of olive oil into a small bowl. Any oil will work, but olive oil adds a lot of flavor. It also coats the meat and slows the chemical reaction between the wine and the meat so that the meat is tenderized but not cooked chemically.
Add three times as much dry white wine as olive oil. The proportions don’t have to be exact; just eyeball it or taste it until the mix appeals to your personal preference.
Sprinkle in salt, pepper, dry mustard, paprika and nutmeg. Start with 1/8 tsp. of each and whisk them into the oil and wine. Taste the marinade and adjust the seasonings to your taste.
Place the cubed beef into a large plastic zipper bag and pour in the marinade. Wiggle the bag to ensure that all of the meat is covered so that it becomes tenderized. Seal the bag and place it in the refrigerator overnight. Turn or shake the bag a few times before bed and in the morning.
Remove the beef from the marinade and let it come to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking it. This helps the muscle fibers relax, tenderizing the meat.
Heat a skillet to medium-high. Follow your recipe, and when it is time to cook the meat, sear it for no more than five to six minutes before you add the liquid and let the meat braise.
Insert an instant-read thermometer into a few random cubes at the end of the cooking time to make sure that they are at least 145 degrees F, which is medium-rare. Do not cook them over 180 degrees or they will become tough.