Poor Man’s Stroganoff takes the old army S.O.S to a new level. It’s a fabulous meat-stretcher that will appeal to those families on a budget. This version has the rich flavor of beef stroganoff without the price tag of a more expensive beef roast.
For you younger folks, S.O.S is short for “s**t on a shingle.” It was a common meal for soldiers during the world wars and became a comfort food for families on a shoestring budget. The original was basically a dried chipped beef (a military kitchen staple) gravy served on toast. Civilians substituted ground beef for the chipped beef. This version evokes those memories, but kicks it up a notch by adding sausage, mushrooms, and sour cream to emulate traditional beef stroganoff.
Bulk breakfast sausage normally comes in a 1-pound roll. You’ll only need half of it. Wrap and freeze the excess. I usually cook up the excess first, then drain and refrigerate or freeze to use in scrambled eggs, omelets, or as a pizza topper.
Take a walk down memory lane with this recipe. Your family and your bank account will thank you.
Poor Man’s Stroganoff Recipe
1 pound chuck (80/20) ground beef (see Notes)
1/2 pound bulk breakfast sausage, preferably spicy (may substitute additional ground beef or turkey/chicken sausage)
8 ounces button or white mushrooms, brushed clean and cut in half (large ones in quarters)
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced (about 1 cup diced)
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 packet unprepared au jus mix (Knorr brand recommended)
1-1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sour cream (may substitute heavy cream, milk, or half-and-half)
1/4 cup heavy cream or milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooked rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes
Place a large, heavy, deep hard-anodized or cast iron skillet over medium heat. When hot, saute ground beef, sausage, mushrooms, and onions. Break apart the ground beef and sausage into clumps as it cooks, but not too small. You want some larger chunks. Cook, stirring often, until most of the liquid has reduced. Skim off all but about 3 Tablespoons of the oil.
When the meat is browned and the onions are soft, sprinkle with the garlic and flour. Stir for 1 minute to cook out the rawness of the flour.
Sprinkle with the au jus mix powder, then stir in water and Worcestershire sauce. When it begins to thicken, add the sour cream and heavy cream, and continue to stir. Let simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (If the gravy is too thick for your liking, add additional water or cream to thin it a bit.)
Serve Poor Man’s Stroganoff over buttered noodles, rice, or mashed potatoes.
Yield: 6 servings
• I prefer to use ground chuck for its superior flavor. However, you may substitute lean ground beef or even less expensive generic ground beef. You may need to drain excess fat when using generic ground beef.