“Unlike the French, who name dishes after the chefs who devised them, the Russians have usually attached the names of famous households to their cuisine–the cooks were usually serfs. For example, we have Beef Stroganoff, Veal Orlov, and Bagration Soup. One of the few exceptions is a cutlet of poultry of real named after Pozharskii, a famous tavern keeper…The last prominent scion of the dynasty, Count Pavel Stroganoff, was a celebrity in turn-of-the-century St. Petersburg, a dignitary at the court of Alexander III, a member of the Imperial Academy of Arts, and a gourmet. It is doubtful that Beef Stroganoff was his or his chef’s invention since the recipe was included in the 1871 edition of the Molokhovets cookbook…which predates his fame as a gourmet. Not a new recipe, by the way, but a refined version of an even older Russian recipe, it had probably been in the family for some years and became well known through Pavel Stroganoff’s love of entertaining.”
– The Art of Russian Cuisine, Anne Volokh with Mavis Manus [Macmillan:New York] 1983 (p. 266)
Beef Stroganoff (Бефстроганов Befstróganov)
In part one I marinated my rump steaks overnight. In part two – I attempted Beef Stroganoff. Do you know what, I don’t even think I’ve eaten this before. It’s such an iconic dish on the British menu, and as I may have explained before, I’m lukewarm about the very British stuff – sausages, roasts, that kind of thing. Basically, any dish where the meat has potential to be overcooked and bland. But I did a little digging, and of course Stroganoff would have Russian origins and a suitably enigmatic story of its conception.
Anyway back to the dish. The essential ingredients of Stroganoff through the decades have been beef and sour cream. In this rendition, I added onions and organic chestnut mushrooms. I put the chopped onions and mushrooms in one pan, frying them in a knob of butter until softened, and then set aside. The two remaining rump steaks had been diced against the grain, and seasoned with paprika, lemon zest, salt and pepper. They were added to the pan, and quickly pushed around until reunited with the mushroom mix. I then took the pan off the heat and added 75ml of sour cream with a sprinkling of parsley.
The result was not at all unpleasant :). The flavour was actually quite mild because of the cream-based sauce, though not without a kick from the lemon and paprika. Next time I’ll double the seasoning.
Read more about the lore of Beef Stroganoff and find the original recipe at The Food Timeline. I also feel warmed towards Beef Stroganoff since finding out it used to be popular in Hong Kong in the 1950’s, where it was served with rice instead of noodles. In fact, the US servicemen stationed in pre-Communist China during WW2 may have brought the dish back to the US, establishing it as a 50’s housewife recipe book staple. Read Time Out HK – Foods of Desire: The Immigrants.