22
Nov

Classic Beef Stroganoff

beef-stroganoff_2_tanya-zouev.jpg
 

Recipe, photography and styling by .

For those who don’t know, my heritage is Russian and I have an affinity for Russian food because I grew up with it and enjoy eating it. One of the dishes I enjoy the most is Beef Stroganoff and when I started researching it’s history, I thought there was only one authentic version, my mother’s. I was wrong. I then read one of the original known recipes by Russian cookbook author Elena Molokovhets in her 1861 book A Gift For Young Housewives. She made hers with sour cream whereas my mother only uses pure cream (slivki in Russian) because she says it makes for a more flavoursome strog. It in fact turns out there are hundreds of different versions from ones made with sausage in Finland to versions made with buffalo meat in the USA. It is obviously a far more international dish than the strictly Russian one I thought it to be. But for this post I will focus on the one I love, the recipe I grew up with and which I still believe to be the best.

I travelled to Russia in 2006. In my usual fashion of eating my way around foreign countries, I ate Beef Stroganoff wherever I could find it. I ate it at small family run restaurants in the country and I ate it at the exclusive and über pricey Café Pushkin in Moscow and I’m sorry to say I was somewhat disappointed. Perhaps it’s a case of what one grows up with being the benchmark, but the versions I ate just didn’t taste as good. My mother’s Stroganoff is literally melt in the mouth. It is made up of delicately sliced rump steak sitting in an incredibly flavoursome sauce with just the right amount of mushrooms and cream. She says the secret is in cooking the mushrooms separately in butter and adding them at the very end, just before you serve.

It is an interesting fact that the name of the dish is said to have originated in the kitchens of the Stroganov family around the mid 18th century. The upper classes of Pre-Revolutionary Russia loved the French and considered everything Le Francaise to be the epitome of class and style. Russian cooks and chefs of the time were encouraged to cook in a French manner and many of them were shipped off to France to study cookery by their employers. Such an employer would have been Alexander Stroganov (see pic below) and if you ask me he looks a bit of a scamp. I’m sure he enjoyed downing vodka shots with Beluga caviar whilst hanging out with his mates in the courts of old Russian aristocracy. He would have loved my mum’s strog, and I hope you do too.

(Pic: Mr. B. Stroganoff himself, circa mid 1800′s.)

Prep time: 20 mins, cooking time: 60 mins. Serves 4-6 as a main meal.

Ingredients:

one tablespoon butter
at least one cup of mushrooms, preferably Swiss Browns cut thin (I use around two cups because I like my Stroganoff mushroomy)
one tablespoon olive oil
1kg (2 pounds) rump steak cut into fine strips approx 4cm x 1cm (2″x.5″)
1 medium to large onion halved then cut into fine strips
1/2 cup chicken or beef stock if required (water can be used as well)
2-3 tablespoons soy sauce (I use tamari, a wheat-free soy sauce)
1 cup of thickened cream
lots of cracked pepper (mum says that Beef Stroganoff just loves black pepper)
salt to taste

Method:

1. Heat the butter over medium heat in a heavy base pan (I used a Le Creuset 24cm cast iron casserole pan) and fry your mushrooms until cooked through, they should have a dark brown appearance and some lovely juices in the bottom (approximately 5-7 mins). Put aside.

2. Using the same pan heat the olive oil on medium heat and brown your meat. Add onions and cook with meat until soft and translucent and keep cooking until there is quite a bit of moisture in the pan from the meat juices.

3. Add two of the tablespoons of soy sauce and stir to mix through. Do not add the third tablespoon until you have tasted the sauce towards the end of cooking.

4. Add chicken or beef stock (or water) if the meat and onions are dry but I find there is usually plenty of moisture in the pan at this stage. Simmer for at least 40 minutes on low heat until meat is soft, about 45 minutes is usually adequate but you may need a little more if your cut of beef is a little tough.

5: When the meat is cooked through add the cream and plenty of black pepper. If sauce is too pale, add a little bit more soy sauce to darken and if you feel the sauce needs a little more flavour. Bear in mind the sauce will darken a little from the mushrooms upon standing after Step 6.

6: At the end of cooking your meat and onions add the mushrooms, stir and simmer for another couple of minutes. Thicken if required (see notes below) and serve immediately.

*If the sauce is a little runny, you can thicken with either a heaped teaspoon of corn flour or tapioca starch dissolved in about a third of a cup of water then add slowly to the pan whilst heat is still on stirring thoroughly. Be careful not to over thicken.

Serve with steamed white rice or mashed potato. Also goes well with large flat pasta noodles though in my family it was pretty much always rice or mash, or on toast for breakfast (we weren’t much of a corn-flakes family). The flavours actually get better upon standing.

Variation: you can also use veal.

 

*Styling notes:

Well I couldn’t decide between a rustic tabletop setting or a simple setting for two so I did both. The one thing I had decided on was that I wanted to use predominantly vintage props. Both settings with the exception of the beautiful green Le Creuset pan and the wonky wooden spoon are made up entirely of bits and bobs from charity shops (thanks again Vinnie’s). The wooden spoon has been in my family for decades so it’s a veritable heirloom!

 

 

33 Responses to "Classic Beef Stroganoff"

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  1. Pingback: Double Tiered Pavlova With Mango, Strawberries & Vanilla CreamTanya Zouev Photography | Tanya Zouev Photography

  2. Memoria

    February 23, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Most of the Stroganoff dishes made in the States call for sour cream; I hate sour cream. So, I am so so so happy to know that the traditional version calls for thickened cream (which is like heavy cream?????). It sounds like it isn’t sour cream…now to find the equivalent here in Italy and in the States.

    I love that overhead shot of the big pot of Beef Stroganoff. It’s so inviting.

  3. Tanya Zouev

    February 23, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    Hi Memoria, thanks for stopping by my blog. Thickened cream is the equivalent of whipping cream in the USA. Very early records of this recipe call for sour cream though many Russians use regular cream. So pleased you like the images. All the best with your cooking. Regards Tanya

  4. Mimi

    March 19, 2013 at 11:14 am

    Hi Tanya,
    This sounds like a fabulous recipe! Instead of thickened cream, can we substitute for sour cream, or should sour cream be added at the end if we like (I have a great love for sour cream!)? Thank you!

  5. Tanya Zouev

    March 19, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    Hello Mimi, yes you can use sour cream but add it at the very end after turning the heat off. Sour cream has a tendency to split, especially if it’s near boiling point and doesn’t look the best. Just add at end, stir right through and serve. I hope it works out for you, it’s a delicious dish. Regards Tanya

  6. Pille @ Nami-Nami

    March 27, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Tanya, interestingly, stroganoff hardly ever contains mushrooms here in Estonia (and I would have thought that the version popular here is pretty similar to the Russian one). I only realised that it’s common to include mushrooms when living in the UK and coming across all those recipes calling for thinly sliced mushrooms in stroganoff.

    So you’re saying that your mum made it with mushrooms as well? Would love to know that.

    PS First time here, lovely photos!

  7. Tanya Zouev

    March 28, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    Hi Pille, yes the original stroganoff recipe didn’t contain mushrooms, just meat and sauce with sour cream. The mushrooms are a later addition, as far as I know Russian as my mother says she cooked it this way when she lived in Harbin China as a very young woman (in the Russian settlement) and that her mother, my babushka, cooked it with mushrooms as well. The original Elena Molokhovets recipe is as follows below. My mother is now 81 so she’s been cooking stroganoff with mushrooms for a long time. Thank you for your feedback about my photography, do stop by again. Regards Tanya

    Elena Molokhovet’s Original Beef Stroganoff Recipe 1861

    Govjadina po-strogonovski, s gorchitseju (Beef in stroganoff style with mustard)

    Two hours before serving, cut a tender piece of raw beef into small cubes and sprinkle with salt and some allspice. Before dinner, mix together 1⁄16 lb (polos’mushka) butter and 1 spoon flour, fry lightly, and dilute with 2 glasses bouillon, 1 teaspoon of prepared Sareptskaja mustard, and a little pepper. Mix, bring to a boil, and strain. Add 2 tablespoons very fresh sour cream before serving. Then fry the beef in butter, add it to the sauce, bring once to a boil, and serve.

    Ingredients

    2 lbs tender beef
    10-15 allspice
    1⁄4 lb butter
    Salt
    2 spoons flour
    2 tablespoons sour cream
    1 teaspoon Sareptskaja mustard

    Recipe translation from Joyce Toomre, ed., Classic Russian Cooking: Elena Molokhovets’ A Gift to Young Housewives (Bloomington: University of Indiana Press, 1998), 213–14.

  8. Pille @ Nami-Nami

    April 9, 2013 at 5:46 am

    Forgot to bookmark the page and had to search for you again. Luckily I found you by googleing “Australian foodblogs + stroganoff” :)
    So nice to see that you replied – and interesting, that your mother indeed used the mushrooms. Intrigued!!! I do make stroganoff quite often (see here: http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=92846239@N00&q=stroganoff ) – and some of my recipes include mushrooms as well. Summer version with chantarelle mushrooms was especially lovely.

  9. Tanya Zouev

    April 11, 2013 at 6:02 am

    Hi Pille, I always respond when I have time to! Your food looks lovely, I’ve bookmarked your blog now. I love those Russian tea glasses. Regards Tanya

  10. Shontelle

    July 10, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Hi Tanya,

    I just had to let you know that I have just made your Beef Stroganoff and it can only be described as A-grade! I was hunting for a good recipe and after reading dozens decided to try yours – at first I was afraid of its simplicity (all the others I read called for different spices, tomato paste etc.), but it is an absolute winner! Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Shontelle.

  11. Tanya Zouev

    July 10, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Hello Shontelle, that is outstanding news! Thank you so much for taking the time to comment here. I will pass the compliments onto my 80 year old mum, you will make her day. Honestly, the tomato pastes and all the other superfluous things other recipes call for really aren’t necessary at all (as you’ve found out). All the best, Tanya

  12. Mark

    August 7, 2013 at 9:48 am

    Hi, just had to say how much I and my family enjoyed your Stroganoff recipe. I’ve made different styles of stroganoff from different recipes, even added white wine in my earlier ones as I was told that was the way! Your recipe is by far the best, takes a little longer than the way I’ve made it in the past but so worth the effort. I like to add a lot of mushrooms as well! Thank you and please thank your mum for sharing your family recipe. It has become the recipe my family uses.

  13. Tanya Zouev

    August 8, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Hi Mark, so lovely to hear your feedback and that you enjoyed the strog so much. I have passed your compliments onto my mother who was thrilled to hear them. All the best, Tanya

  14. Melinda Clarkson

    August 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Hi Tanya,

    I just wanted to say a huge thank you for sharing your mum’s beef stroganoff recipe… It was far the most delicious and satisfying meal I’ve had for awhile.. Being a single mum, on some nights when it’s only just me – I came across some frozen beef and cream that I had in the freezer/fridge, I thought oh I’d love to have beef stroganoff.. Searched for recipes and I came across yours for the simplicity! Please pass on my warm thanks to your mum for such a wonderful recipe. I added lots of pepper and surprisingly it does wonders.. I added a bit of paprika too at the end. I’m no cooking expert and now you’ve made me feel like one! Thank you again :)
    P.s love the photo :)

  15. Tanya Zouev

    August 14, 2013 at 6:42 am

    Hi Melinda,

    That’s wonderful news! My mum will be stoked to hear your comments. Thank you so much for taking the time to write them, and happy cooking. I hope you continue to have many successes in the kitchen. I’m so happy you enjoyed the post. Best regards, Tanya

  16. Pille @ Nami-Nami

    September 3, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    Tanya, made stroganoff again recently, this time with fresh chanterelle mushrooms. Blogged about it last night and was thinking of you again :)

  17. Tanya Zouev

    September 10, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Sounds divine Pille, again so happy (as is my mum) that you like the recipe. Best regards, Tanya

  18. chris

    September 13, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    AlI I and my chubby says is yum yum yum

  19. Derek Michael de Voss

    November 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Hi,
    Imust say I have tried a few ” Beef Stroganoff’s but I found your recipe the most tastiest. I added a few chillies and it really came to my liking
    Thanks a million,
    Derek

  20. Tanya Zouev

    November 7, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Hi Derek, thank you for taking the time to send your message. My elderly mother always gets a kick out of comments about her recipes and I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. Best regards, Tanya

  21. Jonah Gruber

    November 15, 2013 at 11:51 am

    I love your recipe… I am not a big fan of cooking with soy sauce unless I want something that tastes particularly of soy sauce.
    The whole purpose of soy sauce is to put glutamates into the sauce, increasing the savory (“umami”) flavor, so there are a lot of other things to put in it, You could use stronger beef stock or, my favorite, pure premium anchovy oil (fish sauce).

    I’ll be making your mom’s version tonight though, minus soy sauce, thank you!

  22. Michael

    November 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    just about finished cooking your beef stroganoff i used the soy sauce and found it tasty and in keeping with your recipe but i have a liking for these asian sauces and added a teaspoon of oyster sauce to give it a boost it turned out perfect for my taste buds. and the end result of your recipe was perfect thank you i will definetly come back for more
    cheers Mike

  23. Chelsea

    February 2, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    I don’t often comment on blogs, but I just had to tell you that I made this tonight and it was divine. My husband said it was one of the best things he’s ever tasted. Thanks to you and your mother for the incredible recipe!

  24. Tanya Zouev

    February 3, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    You’re welcome! My mother will be chuffed by your feedback, thank you. Best regards, Tanya

  25. Camille

    February 7, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I made this dish last night and it was amazing!! I was really surprised there was so much flavour considering it only required a few simple ingredients. I served it with mashed mixed potato & sweet potato and some steamed peas. Delicious and healthy. Thank you for a wonderful recipe. It will be a regular in our house!

  26. Natalie

    February 19, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks for a great recipe Tanya, and nice to see it stays true to its Russian roots. I have been looking for a more traditional version and this one hits all the right spots!
    Your photos are beautiful too, I only hope my stroganoff looks as good :-)

  27. Tanya Zouev

    February 20, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    Hi Natalie, thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I’m pleased you’ve found a stroganoff recipe you’re happy with and that you enjoy my photographs. I made this recently with raw cream and it was the best version I’d ever had. If you can get it from a safe reliable source I’d recommend it. Regards, Tanya

  28. Erin

    February 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    I am assuming from the picture at the top you serve this on top of rice which makes me SO happy! That’s how my mom makes it and everywhere/one else I’ve had it has it on noodles.

  29. Tanya Zouev

    February 27, 2014 at 6:56 am

    Hi Erin, we always had beef stroganoff on rice or mashed potato when growing up in my family home. Sometimes even on boiled potatoes with dill, but almost never on pasta. In fact, I don’t think it really goes that well on noodles, but hey whatever you’re used to I suppose. Best regards, Tanya

  30. Sarah Eades

    February 28, 2014 at 7:24 am

    This recipe was absolutely delicious! I am not a fan of beef stroganoff, but my hubby requested it. So, I set out to find a good recipe. Yours was the best I’ve ever tasted! You have made me a fan. Thanks!

  31. Ujala

    March 1, 2014 at 5:27 am

    Tried your recipe tonight – it was fantastic. Instead of beef broth I used Bovril beef extract, which added a lot of flavor. I also used 1/2 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup of cream.

    One more point. I was cooking for 2, so only used 1/2 kg of meat, but kept all of the other ingredients the same as I like the dish to be saucy. Turned out perfect! Thank you for the great recipe!

  32. emily

    March 14, 2014 at 10:31 am

    We use the same Le Cruset Dutch Oven. I think it has been discontinued unfortunately. Great recipe though.

  33. Jordan Neal

    March 27, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Your recipe sounds amazing, ive been searching for a stroganoff recipe to use in restaurant servce and this one looks pretty good, will let you know how it goes.

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