It’s no secret. I have three cans of the stuff in my pantry right now.
I made dinner with it tonight, and it was good. First born texted a request for the recipe; Last born ate a plate of it and took the leftovers home. I made this all through their growing-up years, because their dad and I liked it. Each time, without fail, our daughters moved their forks listlessly through the sauce and noodles and asked to be excused from the table. One day they both decided it was edible, and then something to look forward to. I should have asked for some ID.
The recipe came from a promotional cookbook published by Philadelphia Cream Cheese in the 1980s. I copied it by hand into a recipe notebook I’ve kept since ancient times. The cream cheese company named the dish Simple Supper, but we call it Beef Stroganoff. (Apologies to those who make the classic dish with strips of sirloin and sour cream.)
1 pound lean ground beef (I like to use ground bison.)
A smear of vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 10.75-ounce can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of freshly ground pepper
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese (regular or reduced fat)
Hot, cooked medium egg noodles
Smear the bottom of a large, non-stick frying pan with a light coat of vegetable oil; heat over medium. Once the pan is hot enough to make the meat sizzle, put in the ground beef or bison, breaking up the meat into small chunks. As the meat cooks and begins to exude a little fat, add the chopped onions and continue to cook and stir for several minutes, until the meat is browned and the onions are tender. If you’re using a fattier grade of beef, drain the meat and onions into a colander over a bowl to catch the grease. If you’re using bison, push the meat and onions to one side and tip the pan up so that the smaller amount of fat collects on the other side of the pan. Wipe away with paper towels.
(Now would be a good time to get that big pot of water boiling for the noodles you’re about to cook.)
Stir in cream of mushroom soup straight out of the can, along with seasonings. Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cream cheese in chunks and stir periodically as it melts. Once heated through, serve over hot, cooked medium egg noodles.