The classic Russian dish, beef stroganoff, became immensely popular during the 1950s, but still makes the rounds today at weeknight dinner tables and even parties. Beef stroganoff is a quick, skillet dish, often needing an hour or less from start to finish, but you can make it a few days ahead, providing you follow certain precautions.
Playing It Safe
You can safely make beef stroganoff ahead of time, so long as you follow proper cooking and refrigeration techniques. To cut the risk of foodborne illness, make sure you use clean cutting boards, bowls and utensils. Use fresh ingredients and keep them separate until you're ready to cook them. Once cooked, cover the dish and refrigerate it immediately, or within two hours in the fridge at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below, according to the USDA. Prepared and refrigerated this way, you can safely store beef stroganoff for up to three days, according to the USDA. Reheat the beef stroganoff in the microwave until it reaches 165 F, as measured by a meat thermometer. Or, you can safely reheat frozen stroganoff on the stovetop, until the meat thermometer reaches 165 F, according to the USDA.
Meals on the Run
Making beef stroganoff ahead of time is a smart strategy, not just for entertaining, but for busy weeknight meals. By making all or at least a portion of the dish a day or so beforehand, you'll cut down not only on cooking time, but on clean-up time, as well. Toss a salad, heat up some crusty bread and your dinner is ready.
Savory foods, such as beef stroganoff, often taste even better the second day because the flavors have had time to meld. Remember, though, that cooked egg noodles will soak up some of the sauce during storage. For the best flavor and texture, store the sauce and egg noodles separately, and then combine them right before serving. It is preferable to make the sauce ahead of time and cook the noodles just before serving.
In the Freezer
You might have seen companies in your community touting make-ahead meals that you can freeze. Beef stroganoff is one of those meals, with a few caveats. Most beef stroganoff recipes call for strips of beef, beef broth, mushrooms and perhaps cognac or cream of mushroom sauce made into a savory sauce. Sour cream thickens the sauce and adds tanginess. Unfortunately, sour cream doesn't freeze particularly well and can become weepy when you thaw it. If you want to make beef stroganoff ahead of time, leave out the sour cream. Pack the sauce in freezer boxes, with the date on the box and freeze for up to three or four months at a temperature of 0 F or below, according to the USDA. Store the bag in the refrigerator overnight to thaw it. Once you've thawed and reheated the sauce, you can stir in the sour cream and serve the sauce over noodles.