It has been a considerable amount of time since I last talked about a dish that has a defined and traceable heritage, so this is a little bit exciting. We often find that foods have changed tremendously between when they were created and today and this is true in the case of stroganoff. What makes this dish different is that the name has not changed at all. While there is a little bit of contention about whether the dish was named after the Stroganov family (the most accepted root) or as a derivative of the Russian verb “strogat” meaning to chip or shave off, what we do know is that the first written recipe for beef stroganoff appeared in 1871 in a Russian cookery book by Elena Molokhovet: A Gift To Young Housewives.
The original stroganoff did not have mushrooms. Nor did it have onions. It consisted of lightly floured beef cubes which were sautéed and served in a sauce made of mustard and bouillon with a dollop of sour cream on top. Even to this day, it is still common to find stroganoff not in a creamy sauce but in one that is deep red/brown, full of flavour and accompanied with sour cream added after plating up. Some versions also include tomatoes and other vegetables but I like to stick with what I know, mushroom and onion. By removing the beef and substituting the stock for mushroom stock, you can make a delicious mushroom stroganoff which works wonderfully as a pasta sauce.
One thing to note is that beef stroganoff is only as good as the beef that you use to make it. Now I’m not advocating that you go out any buy a tenderloin or fillet steak, that would be ridiculous and frankly, if you want to spend that much money on a slab of meat, you should enjoy the steak by itself. For a standard, fast cooked beef stroganoff like the one in the recipe below, rump steak is the best cut. You can use tougher cuts like chuck or stewing steak if you wish to slow cook the stroganoff but these will not work in a standard recipe. As a result, this isn’t the cheapest dish I have ever given a recipe for but if you fancy treating yourself, why not do it in style? I like to serve stroganoff with long, thick egg pasta noodles as the high surface area can carry a lot of sauce. It isn’t uncommon to see it served with shorter pasta or even rice to soak up the sauce but pasta is the more traditional (and, for me, preferable) option.
Time: 30 minutes
Cost per portion: about £4
500g beef steak (rump or round steak is traditional)
2 medium onions – thinly sliced into half moons
500g mushrooms – thickly sliced
2 cloves garlic – minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
60ml white wine/dry vermouth (optional)
500ml beef stock
150ml sour cream
1 tbsp mustard (optional)
Chives to garnish
Slice the beef into 1cm strips.
Heat the oil in a large pan until it is starting to shimmer.
Add the beef in a single layer and sear for 30 seconds.
Turn and sear for another 30 seconds. Don’t worry about any caramelisation stuck on the base of the pan as this will just add to the flavour later.
Remove the beef from the pan and set aside for later. It will not be cooked all the way through at this point.
Add the onions and fry for a minute.
Add the mushrooms, stir and then pour over the wine. This will deglaze the pan and prevent the mushrooms from sticking until they begin to release their juices.
Continue to fry the mushrooms for another five minutes stirring regularly.
Sprinkle over the flour and stir through.
Add half the stock and stir again until all of the flour has mixed in. Then add the rest of the stock.
Bring to a simmer.
Simmer for three minutes until the sauce has begun to thicken.
Mix in the sour cream (and the mustard). Do not allow the sauce to boil once the sour cream has been added or it will split.
Add the beef back in, including any juice that has come out, and allow to sit in the simmering gravy for two minutes before serving.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This can be served with any sort of carb but I would recommend long, thick linguini style pasta. It’s even better when the pasta is fresh!
The stroganoff can also be frozen for up to three months.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you are looking for a classic, classy steak dish but this doesn’t do it for you, why not check out my recipe for beef wellington? It’s divine. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something a little bit sweeter, why not treat yourself to some delicious German pfeffernusse?
Have a good one and I will be back next week with a classic pudding.