October 20, 2014 | Updated May 13, 2020
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This one is a classic. I mean really: Who hasn’t eaten beef stroganoff?
I’ve seen (and eaten) so many versions of this French standby (yes, despite the name it’s a French dish) that I’ve lost track. They’ve ranged from horrible — cream of mushroom soup and hamburger — to sublime renditions done with care and with great ingredients. I hope you find this recipe one of the latter.
Stroganoff has traditionally been made with quality meat, sliced thin. That means cuts like sirloin or even filet mignon in beef. Hamburger versions are OK, but not my thing.
With venison, thinly sliced pieces of backstrap mixed with mushrooms, shallots, dill and sour cream are the ticket. This is filling, easy-to-eat cool-weather food of the first order.
Know that there is huge variation in stroganoff recipes. A few things are pretty consistent, however. To be a proper stroganoff, you must have thinly sliced red meat — beef, lamb, venison, elk, etc. — sour cream, mushrooms, some sort of onion, and butter. Lots of butter.
What to eat it with? Well, historically it’s been French fries, believe it or not.
But here in America stroganoff is almost always served with egg noodles. This tastes great, but is brutal to photograph. (I think Holly did a great job with these photos, no?) So I went with Austrian spätzle, which are a lot like egg noodles.
You can do whatever, but I really like the way the stroganoff matches with the little spätzle dumplings. And if you don’t want to make these plain Jane spätzle, try my pumpkin spätzle or nettle spätzle, which can also be done with spinach.
Vension Stroganoff with Spatzle
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 1/2 pounds venison backstrap, in one piece
- 2 large shallots, minced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 pound sliced cremini or button mushrooms
- 1/4 pound sliced shiitake mushrooms
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
- 1/4 cup Madeira wine or sherry
- 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
- Dill pollen to garnish (optional)
- Heavy cream, optional (to loosen sauce)
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon black or white pepper
- 1 to 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- Up to 3/4 cup heavy cream
- I make the spaetzle first. These can be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge. Mix all the ingredients except the heavy cream together in a bowl. Now thin the sticky dough into a batter that is a bit like really thick pancake batter with the heavy cream. I use a Spaetzle Maker to make my spaetzle, but you can either use a colander with wide holes or just flick the dough/batter off a cutting board with a knife.
- Get a kettle of salty water going over high heat. Once it boils, make the spaetzle. Boil them hard until they float, then 1 minute more. Skim off with a slotted spoon or a spider skimmer. Move them to a baking sheet. When they are all made, toss them with a little oil so they don't stick together.
- To make the stroganoff, salt the venison well and let it sit on the cutting board for 20 minutes or so. I do this while I make the spaetzle. Get 2 tablespoons butter in a large saute pan good and hot over medium-high heat. Pat the venison dry and sear all sides well in the butter. Cook it until it's rare to medium-rare. If you don't know how to determine this, use the finger test for doneness. When the meat is ready. move it to a cutting board and let it rest.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan and turn the heat to high. Soon they will give up their water, and when they do, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When most of the water has boiled away, add the rest of the butter to the pan along with the shallots and saute everything for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the garlic, toss and cook over high heat for another 3 minutes or so. Sprinkle some salt over everything.
- Add the Madeira and toss to combine. Let this boil down furiously. While it is doing so, grate some nutmeg over the mixture. When the Madeira is mostly gone, turn the heat down to low. Slice the venison thinly and return it and any juices that have collected on the cutting board to the pan. Stir to combine and add most of the chopped fresh dill.
- Stir in the sour cream and turn off the heat. Stir to combine and let it heat through from the heat in the pan. Do not let this boil, or even simmer, or Very Bad Things will happen. Think nasty curdled crap. To serve, spread out over the spaetzle and top with any remaining dill and the dill pollen, if using.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Very tasty and easy. Recipe also comes out well when ground venison is what’s available , and yogurt is substituted for sour cream.
Made this as written except for these changes: used an inner loin and a top round instead of backstrap, and I didn’t have any dill pollen.
Incredible flavor, a great recipe.
I made this recipe twice, followed the instructions exactly and still the sour cream curdled into a gloppy mess.
I was on a mission to make this work!
This time I used home made creme fraiche in place of store bought sour cream and it turned out perfectly.
Layers upon layers of flavor!
Excellent dinner. Don’t skip the Spatzle, I made a huge mess by the time I found a system that worked for the consistency of my dough but once I did it went smooth from there. Maybe I should purchase a spatzle maker instead of improvising with a cooling rack. Lol.
What are your thoughts on canning? I would like to can this recipe to save space in my freezer. I know the process for hot pack canning I just wondered what you thought about using this recipe for canning purposes.
Melanie: It won’t work well because of the dairy. And you would need to pressure can this if you did.
Oh. My. Goodness!! This truly met the criteria of how you hoped your followers would categorize this recipe: “sublime rendition done with care and with great ingredients.” I have to agree with an earlier comment, “This was simply life changing” !!
I’ve been cooking venison for only 4 years now, but I live with a deer hunting fanatic and it is a main dish several times a week. Your commentary throughout the recipe helped me understand and overcome so many “issues” I’ve had with trying to get a good result from a beautiful backstrap – instead of a shoe leather oven roast or the old tried-and-true-but-dreadful-for-you-and-somewhat-disrespectful-treatement-cubed-and-FRIED!
Thank you for sharing your expertise and I can’t wait to get my copy of Duck, Duck, Moose.
I made this tonight: an absolutely wonderful dish, Thanks!
Used stew meat (venison) instead…a little chewier but still amazing. No other adjustments besides adding broccoli. Family demolished it!
My gosh…this completely changed my view of stroganoff. I had always done it with a couple cans of golden mushroom and sour cream in the crock pot with some cubed venison (I know this is borderline criminal), but this is 10x better without the canned garbage.
I sous vide the backstraps at 130° for 2 hours then seared, then sliced thin as Hank said and that was absolutely the BEST way to do it. Incredibly tender and that dill really livens up the dish.
Fantastic Hank…just fantastic.
Hank, this was simply life changing. I would choose this above beef anywhere anytime. My husband and I honor you. I will aspire to learn from you regarding the walleye and the pheasant.
This is probably my favorite all time meal prepared with elk/deer. Perfection!
A really fine version of a classic.
The only stroganoff recipe i’ll make any more! Great use for our wild foraged porchinis, morels and chanterelle’s as well. Highly recommended
This came out wonderfully! I cooked the black tail bag leg roast (gift from a friend) via sous vide after seasoning/dry brining overnight with Montreal Steak Seasoning. 131 degrees/5 hours. Meanwhile, I made homemade fettucini egg pasta. I patted it dry, seared the roast, and cut it on the bias, sampling along the way. It came out so tender! This recipe is a keeper (and I will still sous vide cook again ahead of time).
Tip: Making sure the sour cream is room temp is very important to keep the cream from curdling when adding.Adding a little of the pasta water will help with that over cooked/curdled sour cream that can happen when you blink! 🙂
My first time making spaetzle and a complete success. Delicious!
Hands down one of the best stroganoff recipes I have ever tried. It seemed too good to be true because it is so simple but it delivered big time on flavor. I just bought the Buck, Buck, Moose cookbook and I’m hooked. My husband and I feed ourselves mainly on game meat and after a while it can get a little boring. This will help spice up dinner and keep cooking fun! I would use this recipe to introduce anyone to eating wild game.
I was wondering why this recipe was so easy to follow and came out absolutely perfect, then I realized it was a Hank Shaw recipe and it all made sense.
My family loved this venison stroganoff recipe (used a different spatzle recipe)! I made it with sirloin white tail venison steaks. Incredible! Thanks!
Loved the stroganoff recipe! The spatzle recipe, not so great. My spatzles ended up looking like I was boiling loosely curdled pancake batter. Checking out other spatzle recipes, the egg to flour ratios are typically 2-3 eggs per 1 cup flour. Adding more eggs would have solved my problem.
This was wonderful. It was my first attempt at a stroganoff from scratch, and I got a funny look when I said I was using a backstrap, but it turned out delicious. I will say, I did not try to make the spatzle that goes with it though. I chickened out and used purchased noodles.