Chef Watson – Ground Beef Stroganoff

Chef Watson – Ground Beef Stroganoff

  •  As you may recall, I have been part of a group of beta testers
  • noodling around with the IBM/Bon Appétit software collaboration,
  • Chef Watson. The following is another of the dishes
  •  I prepared using the good Chef’s experimental recipes.

Wanting inspiration beyond my usual go-tos, I turned to Chef Watson to help me make use of some leftover ground beef, Greek yogurt, and, of course, zucchini. (I will never be rid of zucchini; it is my lot. If it is possible to die from zucchini poisoning, I am convinced that is how I will go.) Plugging those items into the system and scanning the collection of dishes in Step 2, “What kind of dish would you like to make?”, what caught my eye was stroganoff. My mother used to make stroganoff quite a lot when I was a kid, so while I enjoyed it, it was something I had needed to take an extended break from for many years. Now, though, I was thwacked with a 2×4 of nostalgia, so I decided to give it a go.

For those who don’t know, stroganoff is a traditional Russian dish, made up of beef and sour cream on top of some type of noodle. A glance at Wikipedia tells us that it came to the United States by way of American servicemen stationed in China around the time of World War II. How it got to China, the article doesn’t say. Way to let me down, Wikipedia.

What Watson provided me with was an interesting mix of options, some recipes calling for things like beer, fish sauce, soy sauce, cinnamon, and ginger. Chef Watson is still a work in progress, so some of the combinations and proportion of ingredients sound fairly dubious, but some are intriguing, when filtered through the sieve of good cooking judgment, like those in the dish I ultimately chose. (Note, my tweaks are in orange.)

Chef Watson – Ground Beef Stroganoff

Chef Watson suggests . . .

Sheila modifies. . .


4 servings

5 oz 1lb ground beef

alcoholic beverage
434 fl oz Free pour ;) white wine

534 oz fettuccine 1 box of dittalini

114  cup ¾ cup, chopped zucchini

414 oz olive oil (divided) winged it

312 tbsp 1 tbsp thyme

12 cup beef stock

14 cup Worcestershire sauce

12 cup  1.5 cup sour cream
1 cup greek yogurt
½ cup whole milk

134 tbsp 1 tsp black pepper
134 tsp ½ tsp cayenne pepper

When it comes to Watson, more often than not it’s best to read the instructions, have a good giggle, and then chuck them out and do what you think is best with the ingredients. This is why the program calls them “Suggested Steps”. (Unfortunately, this does not make Watson overly noob-friendly, but that’s something the development team are working on correcting.) With this recipe, however, they were more or less workable. I skipped a few steps (hard to do a spice rub on ground beef), but more or less followed Watson’s directions.


1. Sprinkle pepper melange and salt over both sides of ground beef; press to adhere.
2. Heat 1/3 of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add ground beef; cook to desired doneness.
4. Transfer beef to plate; tent with foil.
5. Add 1/3 of the oil and zucchini to same skillet; saute about 4 minutes.
6. Add broth and white wine; boil 2 minutes.
7. Add sour cream; boil.
8. Whisk in worcestershire sauce.
9. Meanwhile, cook fettuccine in pot of boiling salted water stirring occasionally.
10. Drain.
11. Return to pot; toss with thyme and 1/3 or the oil. This was my mistake. These instructions were so simple, I was almost completely off book at this point, so I just chucked all but the pasta together and cooked it that way.
12. Season with salt and pepper.
13. Divide among plates.
14. Slice ground beef; place atop fettuccine.
15. Spoon sauce over.

Guess what! This was a *great* dish. You’ll notice I made huge adjustments in the dairy department, ingredients-wise. That was done on the fly because the Worcestershire sauce made the whole thing so incredibly sharp and salty that it needed something to calm it down a bit. Once that was added, though, it was scrumptious; creamy and tangy with a lovely umami element I don’t associate with traditional stroganoff.


Yes, it *looks* terrible, but who needs to always have pretty food? This is a case of true beauty being on the inside, and I think I’ll be keeping this recipe in my back pocket for when I want a break from my regular dinner routine.


Chef Watson – Ground Beef Stroganoff — 1 Comment

  1. I love stroganoff! I tend to put a sour cream and double cream mix for the sauce and flavour the beef with paprika for a slightly different flavour. I also use brandy instead of wine. This recipe looks so good though = love that you have included courgettes! Lucy, xx

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