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Help! Cream separated in stroganoff!

I tried to make beef stroganoff tonight, but the sour cream (or the half & half) separated and was gross. I did add 3 Tbsp. sherry to the whole thing (*after* everything else was in - consomme, mushrooms, beef, sour cream, half & half, etc.). Could the sherry have made it separate? I have seen stroganoff recipes that call for alcohol, such as cognac, so I would think there has to be a way to make it not separate. If anyone has overcome this or has ideas, please help! thanks!

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  1. Were the dairy products at room temp before being added? Adding cold dairy can cause separation. Also, did you add the dairy gradually and fully incorporate into the sauce before adding a bit more and incorporating (and so on until it was all used)? Too high a cooking tempearture can also cause separation.

    1. It may not be authentic, but I use just a little bit of cornstarch slurry to bring it together. Did it last night, and even though I had to re-heat for some late arrivals, it did not break.

      1. You should add the sherry to the browned meat to deglaze, before adding the cream.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hrhboo

          I agree with hrhboo.

        2. Cooking the cream too much might have caused it to separate. Next time add the sour cream last and heat it for a short time until it warms through.

          1. Thanks everyone! I did none of those things, so I have some work to do next time!

            1. You have to "temper" the sour cream or cream before you add it to hot ingredients...Always take a little bit of the hot ingredient and whisk it into the cream before adding the cream to the hot skillet...This works with any recipe where you are adding cold sour cream or cream to warm ingredients...

              1. Same thing just happened to me...my beef stroganoff was amazing and I added the sour cream fresh out of the fridge....oops, my bad. The stroganoff looks grainy now but tastes great. Is there a way to fix it?

                1. I turn the heat way down and add the sour cream (straight from the fridge, untempered, all at once) to the pot. Remove from the heat as soon as it is warmed through. This was my mother's technique, and it never failed her or me. (I do use sherry, but no cream or half and half.)

                  1. I would bet it was the 1/2&1/2. For what ever reason it breaks very easily. Typically the only Sour Cream is used.
                    Also if you boil it after the Dairy is added the Sour cream can break as well.