Stroganoff is one of my favorite dishes. Years ago, as a college freshman, I spent New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house, and she made a red wine Stroganoff. It was wonderful. Then I started making it on my own, trading the red wine for white. In addition to this variation that uses Cognac instead of wine, my recipe relies on wild game meat: brined overnight. It makes this wild Stroganoff amazingly tender and flavorful. FYI: an ‘airplane’ sized bottle of Cognac is ¼ cup, so no big investment required, and despite the long list of ingredients, this is a simple dish to make.
1 lb. venison steaks, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
4 cups water
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2/10 of an ounce dehydrated gourmet mushrooms (a good handful)
The Rest of the Ingredients
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
¼ cup heavy cream
4 cups dry pasta
3 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, sliced
1 cup beef broth
¼ cup Cognac
⅛-¼ teaspoon black pepper
2 green onions, chopped
- Combine the brine ingredients with the venison and dried mushrooms in a resealable plastic bag, seal and refrigerate it for 18-24 hours.
- Drain the brine off the meat and mushrooms. Let the meat sit in a sieve over a bowl in the sink, for a few minutes, to let more liquid drain off. While it drains, pick out the mushrooms, dry them with paper towels, and dice them. Set aside. Then dry the meat with paper towels and set that aside.
- Combine the sour cream, Dijon mustard and heavy cream. Stir and set aside. Start the pasta and prepare according to package instructions. When it’s done, drain and keep it warm.
- In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until the oil just starts to smoke. Brown the meat in the oil, about 7-10 minutes for each batch. Transfer it to a large bowl. Add the butter, and when it starts to sizzle, add the onion and diced mushrooms. Sauté them until the onions soften and start to color. About 4-5 minutes.
- Add the broth and then the Cognac. (Please don’t reverse the order: pouring distilled spirits onto a hot pan can backfire on you—literally–and blow the bottle up in your hand. So broth first to cool the pan, then Cognac.) Let that simmer at medium heat until the liquid thickens and just coats the onions, 12 to 14 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Stir in the sour cream/mustard/cream mixture. When the onions are coated, stir the meat into the onions and sauce. Let that simmer 3-4 minutes, until the meat is hot again, add the black pepper–to taste–and serve hot over the pasta with a sprinkling of green onions.
Tips from the kitchen:
This recipe is from Eileen Clarke’s wild game cookbook, Tenderize the Wild: Marinades, Brines and Rubs for Wild Game, 100 recipes for big game, upland birds and waterfowl, bear and pigs. $28 from www.riflessndrecipes.com/406-521-0273. Her latest book is Stalking the Wild Jerky, $19.95.