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Make-Ahead Meatballs for Beef Stroganoff

Make-Ahead Meatballs for Beef Stroganoff
        I don’t think it constitutes a trend but two of my food magazines published recipes for basically the same dish this month.  The magazines in question hardly rival Gourmet.  “Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food” is geared to the home cook and one who generally doesn’t like even the mildest surprises when they cook.  “Cuisine-at-Home” comes with 3 hole punches on every page so you can build your own cookbook with their pretty basic recipes. These are not generally go-to resources for me:  I prefer to be more adventurous and at least challenge myself with new flavors and cooking styles. But somehow, I cannot resist a new take on meatballs.  And Beef Stroganoff is one of my favorites from way back. Calling as it does for fillet of beef however has dimmed my enthusiasm. With the price of beef fillet approaching the stratosphere, if I am going to cook one, I am not about to cover it in sour cream.  Not too long ago, I made a version using sirloin, which is about the best buy in beef I can find—at least here in New York.   What a disappointment that was!  Way too tough!  But the dueling photos in the two magazines really did appeal to me.  Topping egg noodles in one and spaghetti in the other, they were just the kind of comfort I was looking for. And in Chinese menu fashion, I made the dish with the meatballs from one and the Stroganoff from the other.

         The meatballs came from Cuisine-at-Home where they were called “Mini-Bacon Meatballs”.  Now I realize Bacon has almost become a cliché.  But think of another ingredient that is as easy to work with and so transformative whether you wrap a scallop in it or top your meatloaf with it.  The smoky flavor, the glorious fat in the streaks of pork, the crunchy texture—put them all together and they seem to improve almost anything from bread pudding to a simple green salad. Here they let you use very lean ground beef which relies on the bacon for its fat content.  The idea here is to cook them ahead in some quantity so that you can freeze them, put them into airtight containers and take them out of the freezer any time you want.  Smaller than ordinary meatballs, they’re about the size of a golf ball.  Cuisine at Home claimed they can be used in soups and even as appetizers.  I have a container of them in the freezer now.  But when I first made them, they went right into the recipe for “Meatball Stroganoff”.
         Here’s where we flipped over to the Martha Stewart version of the dish.  What I loved about it was that the Stroganoff sat atop a bowl of spaghetti, its rich creamy sauce coating the noodles.  True to true Stroganoff, there are slices of mushrooms throughout and a blizzard of dill which brings both flavor and color to this otherwise beige meal.  I served it with a simple green salad.  I must say it accomplished exactly what I wanted: the sour cream taste of Stroganoff and the comfort of a great bowl of spaghetti.  Here are the recipes:

5 thoughts on “Make-Ahead Meatballs for Beef Stroganoff”

  • So much better than the stroganoff my mom used to make with a can of soup!! Remember that? I think it was Campbell's Tomato Soup. I'm making your version this weekend. Looks so simple and yummy.

  • Sounds good. Our family favorite is beef stroganoff with either round steak or chuck roast. Both can be bought on sale for $2.99. I cook the meat for several hours so it is possible to have a delicious tasting beef stroganoff at an affordable price.

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