Why You Should Always Let Beef Stroganoff Sauce Simmer, Not Boil

beef Stroganoff
beef Stroganoff - norikko/Shutterstock

Beef stroganoff might be named for a 19th-century Russian aristocratic family, but the fancy-sounding creamy beef recipe deserves a chance to step out of the history books and into your meal plan. Skip the canned soup recipe versions, too. The ingredients from scratch are deceptively simple for such a delicious meal, and you won't need to master any complicated culinary techniques to pull it off -- just searing and simmering. The key to a creamy and smooth sauce fit for nobility is to take care not to let the liquid boil, which just requires a bit of attention.

In general, sauces with a creamy base are likely to curdle and separate if they are overheated. That's because milk proteins stick together when they get hot. Our grandmother's solution was canned mushroom soup stroganoff because the extra starches in the soup kept the sauce smooth. But why settle for a stodgy pan of sauce when you can have the rich original, and all it takes is keeping the heat on low?

Read more: 20 Popular Canned Soups, Ranked Worst To Best

Stroganoff Success Secrets

beef stroganoff with fork
beef stroganoff with fork - Powerofforever/Getty Images

It might be tempting to turn up the heat on stroganoff sauce to reduce the pan liquid, but that's a mistake after the sour cream has been added to the sauce. If your mushrooms gave off an unexpected bounty of umami-packed liquid, or your skillet is not wide enough to allow efficient evaporation, you can use medium-high heat to simmer off some of the volume, but hold off on adding the dairy ingredient until the level of sauce is about where you want it to be -- saucy, but not soup-like. That's the time to turn your burner to low and whisk in the sour cream.

This is not the recipe to substitute low-fat sour cream or yogurt for the full-fat version, either. The secret to a creamy sauce is the bit of extra fat that helps separate the milk proteins and keep them from clumping. A good tip to remember is that you can add a dollop of creme fraiche to any sour cream-based sauce to prevent clumping, thanks to its higher fat content. Once you've added the sour cream to your pan, keep the heat low. If you want to simmer the sauce to thicken it a bit, watch out that it doesn't become too thick and sticky.

Read the original article on Tasting Table