The inevitable summer dinner party has arrived. There is nothing you can do about it now. You are frantic because it is your turn to host it. This time, the responsibilities have landed upon you. You are starting to cry. Hey! Stop that crying! There is no crying in cooking! You have to suck it up. Step up to the plate. It is your turn to shine. Sure the task sounds daunting. Scary almost. Cooking an entire meal for a gathering and hosting it, can be a bit too much for any one person. In reality you might go crazy. Have no fear, I’m here to help. Who am I you might be asking? Well, I’m your cooking conscious of course. You won’t go crazy as long as I’m around. So the tears have stopped but now you have begun to sweat. Wipe that sweat off your face! Do not fret. Keep your chin up. Hold it up high. Higher. Higher. There you go. You can do this. Be confident. Have a stiff upper lip. You are a master in the kitchen. Oh you are not? Well, let us pretend you are. You are the master, and the kitchen is your domain. Say it with me, “I am the master, and the kitchen is my domain!” I do not think you meant it that time. Once more, with feeling. “I am the master, and the kitchen is my domain!” There you go. It’s easy. Keep all the other dinner parties—you have attended—in the back of your mind, and take note that they have all been deliciously entertaining. What is more, they have all been easy, flawless even. The other hosts and hostesses have blown it out of the water. They have knocked it out of the park. They have put together spectacular summer dinner parties. Parties that guests are still talking about. That is what we need. This is what you will do. We have to throw a party that people will talk about for weeks and weeks on end. Your party will come and go and your guests won’t be able to stop mentioning it. You too will shine. The Joneses have nothing on you.
The fire has been lit within you. The spark, ignited. Your confidence, higher. An evil smirk sprawls across your face. You contemplate what to serve as you start to go through all the recipes in your repertoire. No, those tired and stale recipes will not do here. You need a new one. A fresh recipe. For a spilt second you lose yourself in the idea of ice sculptures and chocolate fountains. Wanting so badly to impress. To impress your family. To impress your friends. To impress your neighbors. To impress those know-it-all Joneses. Thoughts of live bands, jugglers, tents, chandeliers, and ceiling acrobats enter your mind. You get lost in your own wild ideas and schemes. Caviar. Sundae bar. Seafood buffet. Silent auction. For a few minutes you lose consciousness. Your eyes glaze over and you enter a dream-like state where fancy, grandeur, and expensive float all around you. Suddenly you awaken. You come to. You open your eyes and realize that you are standing on top of your kitchen counter with your arms stretched out laughing uncontrollably. What has gotten into you? I have created a monster. I walk up and slap you. I slap you hard across the face. Your look registers a state of shock. A state of disbelief, when you realize where exactly it is you are standing and that the slap had to be done. I’m sorry, I just slapped you, but it had to be done.
Now listen up. You do not need fancy buffets and extravagant entertainment to throw a memorable dinner party. Sure people will be mesmerized with such things because they are nice, but in reality they will be just as impressed with simple and delicious food. You do not need to slave away for hours in the kitchen worrying about making individual meals or a wide variety of appetizers. Dinner parties should be stress-free. They should be fun. You are there to enjoy the party as well. You deserve it just as much as your guests do, if not more. What you have to do is make one easy dish. One that is packed with flavor and is set to impress. Often times people get overly ambitious and think they need to make something with exotic ingredients. They base a recipe’s excellence on the amount of ingredients listed. However the simple reality is that less is more. All you need are a few simple and well thought out ingredients to create a show stopping meal. For instance, take normal everyday chicken breasts, some good hearty crimini mushrooms, onions, garlic, sour cream, a few spices and herbs here and there, and while you are at it, a pound of healthy whole wheat egg noodles. Why you got yourself a meal fit for a king or queen (I’m an equal opportunist conscious, what can I say?). Wipe that look of confusion off of your face. What can you make with said ingredients? Well thank you for asking, my young grasshopper, you can make Chicken Stroganoff. “Chicken what now?” Well Chicken Stroganoff of course. Make this classic dish, reinvented, for the dinner party and the “ooohs” and “ahhhs” will just come rolling in. The Joneses will hate you for it. You’ll be a star. People will want to be you. I can see that look of intrigue in your eyes. How do you make Chicken Stroganoff you ask? Well let me show you how. Just put your trust in your ol’ cooking conscious here and I will teach you how to make such a dish.
We begin with our simple, yet incredibly delicious, ingredients.
We first have to start by preparing the chicken.
I know I know, what does that mean? What are we preparing it for? Is it going out? What should it wear?
We’re preparing it for cooking, silly. Chickens don’t wear clothes.
You’ll need 3 chicken breasts.
Tip: You can also use dark meat if you’d like. Or a mixture of both white and dark for a tasty combination.
2 chicken breasts are probably more than enough for 4 people. I however, don’t like it when you’re eating a dish of some sort and you need a magnifying glass to find the meat.
So I fixed the problem by adding another chicken breast. Feel free to add more if you are having more people over.
Cut each chicken breast into thin slices.
I use a plastic cutting board to cut the raw chicken. I have one that is solely designated to cut raw protein.
Never cut raw chicken or meat on a wooden cutting board. It can hold bacteria, if you do. It can cause cross contamination and create diseases. People could get seriously sick.
Did I scare you enough to get a plastic cutting only for raw meat and chicken?
Then cut each strip into chunks.
Cut all the chicken like this, and throw it into a bowl.
Tip: You can also make this the classic way, with beef. Just swap out the chicken for top sirloin roast instead.
It’s time to season the chicken.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Crushed Red Pepper
Give it a toss.
Eh…just use your hands. Why not?
Just make sure you wash your mittens really well. Along with the cutting board and knife you used. Sanitation is key. Don’t cross contaminate anything.
*This has been a PSA for the prevention of salmonella.*
Toss the chicken and spices until evenly coated.
We’re now going to cook this here chicken.
Start by heating a large pot—I like using a heavy duty dutch oven—over medium-high heat.
Drizzle in a bit of olive oil.
You’ll most definitely have to cook the chicken in batches.
Do not overcrowd the pot because if you do, the chicken wont really brown and caramelize, rather it will just steam and boil. Developing no color or flavor. No one wants that.
So lesson of the day; do not crowd. You should brown. Hey that rhymes!
Cook the chicken about 3-5 minutes per side, flipping once to develop a nice caramelization on the chicken nuggets. The chicken slivers. The chicken chunks.
You are not really cooking the chicken all the way through. Just browning it.
It will continue to cook later on.
So once the chicken is golden brown, use a slotted spoon to scoop up and transfer to a plate while you continue cooking the rest.
Continue in batches until all the chicken is browned.
At some point during the process you might need to add more oil if it needs some.
Allow the chicken to rest on a plate while we proceed to the next steps of the meal.
When all the chicken is browned, let’s cut and cook some veggies.
Start with an onion.
Cut off the ends, slice in half, and remove the skin.
Then give it a dice.
Let’s also chop the garlic, while we’re at it.
You’ll need about three cloves of garlic. Try to use fresh garlic whenever possible. The flavor is just unbeatable. I would shy away from using the already chopped garlic in a jar. It isn’t as fresh as it could be.
Tip: If you have an aversion to chopping garlic, or just do not like to do it, use a microplane or handheld grater to grate the garlic instead!
In the last post I grated it. In this post I decided to chop it. What can I say? I’m fickle.
So to the pot where you cooked the chicken, add a bit more oil (if there was not enough left over).
And don’t worry about the browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot, that is nothing but flavor.
Later on when we start to cook the veggies, it’ll lift up from the pan and create a great tasting sauce. Trust me.
So toss in the chopped onion and garlic.
Stir and allow to cook until translucent and caramelized.
While the onions and garlic cook, this is your opportunity to prepare the mushrooms.
I like to use crimini mushrooms for this dish. I feel like they have more flavor than the ordinary plain white button variety.
But that’s just me. Feel free to use whichever kind of mushroom you like best!
There’s a myth out there in the foodie world that if you wash mushrooms under running water, they toughen up on you.
Now I do not know if this is true, as I’ve never tried it out of fear. So to not take any chances, I always just wipe down my mushrooms with damp paper towels.
I do not want tough mushrooms. Do you? Some things are not worth risking. Mushrooms are those things.
After you have wiped them down, remove the stems.
You can save the stems for later. I know what you are thinking. What on Earth will I use these stems for, conscious?
Well do not fret my friend.
Tip: You can freeze them and use them in a vegetable stock later on. Or throw them into soups to make them more flavorful.
Anyhow I digress. Let’s focus our attention back to the mushrooms.
Okay, throw them into the pot.
Give them a toss to mix in with the onions and garlic.
If there is one thing you take away from my blog—well honestly I’m hoping you learn a lot of things, not just one—but if there is one lesson that sticks to you, it should be to season as you go. Season every layer. Seasoning is key.
So once you add the mushrooms, season with a bit of salt and pepper.
A pinch and a dash or a dash and a pinch.
Stir once more and cook until golden brown.
Now let’s make a roux.
What is a roux you ask?
Well, thank you for asking. A roux is a fancy schmancy cooking term for a thickening agent.
It’s basically just flour and fat—usually butter—mixed together. That’s it. Nothing fancy about it huh?
Anyhow, the roux will thicken our sauce.
So make a well in the center of the pot.
In the center, drop in the butter.
Let’s take a moment to just admire the beautiful picture above. It isn’t because I took the picture. No, it’s what the picture shows.
Mushrooms, garlic, onions, and butter. Is there anything better? Serve this on a plate for me right now and I’m golden.
I could just stop the post here and say we’re finished. We could eat this together and be happy.
But I suppose we have to finish the entire dish…I guess.
Add in the flour.
Stir that together and allow to cook for about a minute. You want to cook out that raw flour flavor (say that five times fast). It should start to smell nutty.
Next, stream in the chicken stock. (If you’re making Beef Stroganoff, you can use beef stock instead).
While you’re at it, dump in the worchestire sauce as well.
Give it one giant, colossal stir. Okay, maybe a couple stirs.
Allow the sauce to bubble, boil, and thicken. (I just got a vision of us gathered around a cauldron. Wearing pointed hats. Laughing maniacally. Why is that?)
Remember the browned chicken? How could you forget those precious nuggets, slivers, and chunks?
Throw it into the hot tub.
This is where the chicken will continue to cook.
Stir it into the sauce. Allow to simmer for about 5-10 minutes, on low. This will let the chicken cook and get tender.
In the meantime, you can cook the egg noodles. I’m using a whole wheat egg noodle, I mean because why not? Might as well be healthy.
Cook the noodles until slightly tender or “Al Dente” if you want to be fancy.
So the noodles are “Al Dente.” Look at us we’re being fancy.
Truthfully, I used whole wheat noodles because the next ingredient isn’t as healthy so I’m offsetting.
We do not have to feel guilty about the sour cream because we used whole wheat noodles. That works right?
Next step is the sour cream (what I tell ya?). And do not use some of that low-fat or fat-free sour cream stuff here. There’s no place for those things in this recipe, or any for that matter. I always say, if I’m going to use something like sour or heavy cream I’m going to use the good stuff. I’ll go all the way.
Anyhow, sour cream is a classic stroganoff ingredient. It gives it that creamy look and taste to it. And of course, like many dishes, there are a wide variety of recipes and variations out there. The popular variation uses sour cream, so I’m using sour cream.
Remember that important tip, season every layer.
Add a tad bit more salt and pepper. Now, before I get e-mails about how I add a ton of salt to everything, I’m only adding a tiny bit here and there. It’s not like I’m throwing in a tablespoon of salt each time. It’s a pinch.
Season to taste. It’s important to taste as you go along. That’s how you make sure the seasoning is correct. If it tastes good, then you’re good.
So stir once again.
Allow to come to a small boil. A simmer.
It’s ready. Let’s serve this dish up.
You can do this in one of two ways.
1). You can toss in the noodles into the pot and stir it all together.
2). You can do what I do—to impress your family or guests—and arrange the noodles on platter.
Top with the chicken stroganoff.
Looks good right?
It’s missing something though.
A little color! You eat with your eyeballs first. Or something like that.
That up there is parsley. But I’m sure you knew this already.
That up there is flat-leaf parsley. I like it better than the curly kind. It has more flavor, in my opinion. And I’m your cooking conscious, so you take my opinion.
Give it a rough chop.
Sprinkle it over the chicken stroganoff.
Okay, now we’re done.
BAM (Sorry Emeril) dinner is served.
Make this for dinner one night.
Your family will love it.
Having a party?
Make this for the party, your guests will love it.
Live by yourself?
Make this for yourself, you will love it.
I like to make this for a quick weekday dinner.
I’ll serve it with a simple green salad or sautéed green beans.
I also like to put an extra dollop of sour cream when I serve it.
What? It tastes good that way!
It’s a very simple meal. Many people think that stroganoff is rather complicated to make. That it takes hours to cook.
But that isn’t the case. It’s super simple right?
You can make this, no sweat.
Okay I’ll stop with the images now.
Have I tempted you enough to make it?
Come on. You know you want to.
You can easily make this dish the classic way, with beef. Just swap out the chicken for top sirloin roast and the chicken stock for beef stock.
Yield: Serves 6-8
- 3 chicken breasts, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon worchestire sauce
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 packages fresh crimini mushrooms, about 2 cups sliced
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 pound whole wheat egg noodles, cooked according to package directions
- 1/2 cup sour cream, plus more for garnishing
- flat leaf parsley, chopped for garnish
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.
Meanwhile, cut the chicken into 1-inch strips, placing them into a bowl. Season with garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, crushed red pepper flakes, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Toss thoroughly to combine.
Drizzle in about 1 tablespoon of the oil into the preheated pot, and cook the chicken in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Brown the chicken about 2-5 minutes on each side. Do not worry about cooking it all the way, this step is just to develop color and flavor. Continue sautéing the chicken, in batches, until it is all browned. Transferring the finished pieces onto a plate to rest.
Throw in the remaining tablespoon of oil and add the chopped onions and garlic to the pot. Stir occasionally and allow to caramelize until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the sliced mushrooms. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and stir coating the mushrooms completely with the oil, onions and garlic. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the mushrooms are browned. Make a well in the center of the pot. Add the butter and flour, mixing together to make a roux. Cook for about 1 minute to let the raw flour taste cook off. Then, stream in the chicken stock while you mix everything together. Add the worchestire sauce and stir once more. Lower the heat to low and allow the sauce to thicken and bubble slightly. Throw in the chicken, along with the juices, and continue to cook, on a simmer, for about 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, follow the instructions on the egg noodle package to cook. Pasta should be slightly tender or “al dente.” Drain and let sit for a minute while you finish the sauce.
To the sauce and chicken, add the sour cream, and season once more with a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Toss in the egg noodles and sprinkle with the chopped parsley for garnish. Or you can arrange the cooked pasta on a serving platter and just spoon over the chicken stroganoff on top. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and chopped parsley. Serve right away. Stroganoff can be made in advance and stored in the fridge. When ready to serve, just reheat on the stove and cook the noodles, then simply toss together. Enjoy.