CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Slow Cooker Roast Stroganoff

Cooking for two can be a challenging. But as the old saying goes, where there is a will, there is a way.

For me, the biggest issue is leftovers. When our grandson, Rakeem, was in town and coming over for supper two to four times a week, it wasn’t that big a deal. But now that he’s gone away for college, I’ve had to come up with some new recipes or cut back on some old ones so we aren’t eating the same thing for a week.

We had a bit of a reprieve recently when he came home for a visit. I made a couple of his favorite meals — Swiss steak and spaghetti with meat sauce — while he was here. His appetite assuredly cut back on the amount of leftovers.

However when preparing the Swiss steak, I had a pretty good chunk of meat remaining after cutting slices off a 3- to 4-pound bison roast and no plan for the remainder. That’s when I started searching through cookbooks and on the internet for recipes that might give me some ideas on what to do with the large hunk of roast.

After looking over more than a dozen recipes, I put together the following concoction, which vastly exceeded my expectations. And needless to say, the leftovers didn’t last very long.

Slow Cooker Roast Stroganoff
1 3- to 4-pound beef or bison roast
1 package dry onion soup mix
1 10½-ounce can cream of mushroom soup (If using a condensed soup add 1 can of water.)
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 14½-ounce can stewed tomatoes
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Sour cream
Put the onion soup mix on the bottom of the slow cooker. Brown all sides of the roast in a skillet. Remove meat and place in slow cooker.
Add soup, flour and Worcestershire sauce to the hot skillet, cook until smooth (add water if you are using condensed soup). Pour over the roast in the crockpot. Add tomatoes and mushrooms.
Cook for 6 to 8 hours. Remove the roast and cut into bite-size pieces. Stir the sauce. Mix in a few dollops of sour cream. Add the meat and mix. Serve over egg noodles tossed with butter or mashed potatoes. Sprinkle some dried dill on top of stroganoff and noodles or potatoes along with a few more spoonfuls of sour cream.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Meatball Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff has become an extremely popular dish ever since it originated in 19th century Russia. In fact, there are probably as many variations of the dish as there are cultures in the world.

For example, in Brazil, host of the 2016 Summer Olympics, it is known as estrogonofe, and chicken or shrimp sometimesis substituted for beef. The Swedes make a variation — korv-stroganoff — that uses a traditional sausage, Falukorv, in lieu of beef.

Another simple and delicious version I’ve taken a liking to features meatballs instead of cubes or strips of beef. What is most appealing about the recipe is that premade meatballs cut the preparation and cooking time in half.

That’s something even record-chasing Olympians would relish.

Meatball Stroganoff
1 10½-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
1 10½-ounce can cream of celery soup
¾ cup milk
¼ cup sour cream
¾ pound cooked meatballs (recipe follows)
16-ounce package egg noodles
8 ounces sliced mushrooms (optional)
1 small onion, diced
Start sauce base by combining soups and milk. Add sour cream if it gets too runny or more milk if it gets too thick for your tastes.
In a separate skillet, place the meatballs and add the sauce. Stir in onion. Reduce heat to low.
Meanwhile, cook egg noodles according to package directions until al dente. Drain noodles and put back in pot. Add meatballs and sauce. Mix thoroughly and serve.

Make-Ahead Meatballs
2 pounds ground chuck
½ pound ground pork
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1½ cup cheese, grated
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 onion, minced
½ cup pine nuts (optional)
Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Let stand ½ hour. Shape into medium-sized meatballs. Fry gently in olive oil until lightly browned, or place on foil cookie sheet and bake for ½ hour at 350 degrees. Gently place in your own sauce and cook on medium for 1 hour.
Yield: 25 to 30 meatballs.

CHEF JEFF: One Byte At A Time — Fowled-Up Stroganoff

Anyone who hunts and also is handy around the kitchen knows that most of the game that can be taken in the field is interchangeable recipe-wise with meat that is raised domestically.

And those who are familiar with me aren’t too surprised by the number of entrees I’ve prepared over the years that feature wild game. The total probably vastly exceeds any of those that makes use of animals raised on a farm.

That’s not to say we don’t eat some beef, pork or chicken. But when you have a freezer full of game such as elk, venison, pheasant, grouse, partridge and ducks and geese, you don’t find yourself buying a lot of meat from the supermarket.

One of my favorite wild-for-domestic substitutes is pheasant for chicken. I’ve barbecued pheasant, baked it and roasted it. I’ve used pheasant in casseroles, stir-fries and salads.

Perhaps one of my favorite recipes using pheasant as a chicken stand-in is for stroganoff. Originally, I used the recipe for venison and elk stroganoff, the combination of two recipes that looked appealing to me.

Some time later, when looking through one of my many cookbooks, I saw a picture of chicken stroganoff and immediately thought about using the hybrid recipe for pheasant.

And the rest, as they say, is history. It’s been a hit at our house ever since the first time I made it.

Pheasant Stroganoff
1 pound pheasant meat, about ½-inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
½ pound mushrooms, washed trimmed and sliced
1 medium onion, minced (about ½ cup)
1 10½ ounce can condensed chicken broth
1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons flour, divided
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup cooking sherry
3 to 4 cups hot cooked wide egg noodles
Cut meat across the grain into ½-inch strips, about 1½ inches long. Melt butter in large skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion is tender. Add and saute pheasant until cooked through. Add half of the flour, spices and mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add soup and half of broth. Stir in ketchup, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Blend reserved broth and flour then stir into meat mixture along with Worcestershire sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Reduce heat. Stir in sour cream and sherry, heat through. Serve over noodles.