Thursday, February 25, 2016

Creamy Beef Stroganoff with Mushrooms and Onions!

The origin and history of Beef Stroganoff dates backs to 19th century Russia. It was brought to popularity or fame by Count Pavel Stroganov who for some years had become well known for his love of food and entertaining. Count Pavel Stroganov was a celebrity, a dignitary at the court of Alexander III, a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts, and a known gourmet. Given the known history of the recipe, it is doubtful that 'Beef Stroganoff' was his or his chef's invention. The known history of the recipe shows that it was included in the 1871 edition of Elena Molokhovet's cookbook, which clearly pre-dates the Count Stroganov's fame as a gourmet.

Elena Molokhovet’s ' classic Russian cookbook ‘A Gift to Young Housewives’ gives the first known recipe for Govjadina po-strogonovski, s gorchitseju, "Beef à la Stroganov, with mustard", in its 1871 edition. The recipe involves lightly floured beef cubes (not strips) sautéed, sauced with prepared mustard and bouillon, and finished with a small amount of sour cream; however, no onions or mushrooms.

My modern version has both onion and mushrooms, but no mustard. You begin by sauteing onions in olive oil along with a generous dash of dried herbs in a covered skillet or stock pot. Once the onion has browned, add your sliced or cubed boneless beef and a bit of salt and pepper. As for the cut of meat, you can use stew meat or better cuts depending on your budget. Believe me, Molokhovet's version likely used the stew meat cuts given her cookbook was for young housewives and they rather had more frugal budgets than the Count Pavel's. 

When the meat slices or cubes are no longer red or 'raw', add your sliced mushrooms, stir and cover to slow cook on med. heat for 10 min., stirring occasionally. What about bouillon? If you use a good stew meat in a covered stock pot, you will get a rich stock and the bouillon is not necessary. However, if you find you lack liquid, then you can add 'slowly' a small amount of liquid 'beef' bouillon. After the first ten minutes, reduce your heat to low adding 1/4 cup of heavy cream and 3 tbs of sour cream, stir and simmer on low heat for another 8-10 min. After that time has passed, turn off the heat, leave covered on the burner or heat element. 

In the meantime, prepare noodles as it is the tradition. I used an herb infused wide pasta noodle. Boil in salted water. When tender, drain and ladle onto a low lipped serving plate or dish, then pour out the stroganoff, garnish with fresh green parsley and serve.

~ Tutti a Tavola!

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