Beef Stroganoff or beef Stroganov (бефстроганов befstróganov, Gowjadina Stroganov, in Russian) is a traditional Russian recipe consisting of pieces of beef tenderloin that are sautéed and then mixed with smetana (or sour cream).
What cut to use for beef Stroganoff
When preparing beef Stroganoff, it is imperative to choose a cut of beef that can be fried or pan-fried. That is to say, it has to be a cut that can get tender in just a few minutes of cooking: for example, top sirloin, tenderloin, rib eye, hanger or rump steak.
It is best not to cook the beef directly out of the refrigerator but to let it return to room temperature to avoid a thermal shock during cooking which may contract the muscle fibers and harden the meat immediately.
It is important to fry the meat over high heat in small portions, so that the meat rests on the surface of the pan in a single layer.
The goal is to sear the meat to immediately get a crust so that all of its juice stays inside. Putting too much meat in the pan at the same time will make juice and that’s not the goal of the recipe. Salt, at this stage, is prohibited because the salt causes the release of meat juices.
What is the origin of beef stroganoff?
Beef Stroganoff has uncertain and mysterious origins, at least as much as for its name. Different are the legends that revolve around its birth.
The first legend dates back to the 17th century. This recipe would have been invented by the French chef André Dupont, who then worked for the Adjutant-general of the Russian Empire, Pavel Alexandrovitch Stroganov (Строганов Павел Александрович) in honor of which he gave his sauce the name his master.
Another legend tells of another nobleman named Stroganov. Count Grigori Alexandrovitch Stroganov, born September 16, 1770 and died January 7, 1857 in St. Petersburg, having reached an old age, would have lost so many teeth that he could no longer chew, so his personal cook invented a dish with tender veal cut into thin strips that the older aristocrat could easily chew.
Yet another legend attributes the paternity of beef Stroganoff to a doctor called Stroganoff, employed by the Czarina Maria of Russia in the 19th century. It seems that the latter, exercising the profession of whale hunter, was the victim, with all the crew, of food poisoning by herring. This is how Doctor Stroganoff decided to prescribe for everyone a diet based on rice and beef, previously fermented in cream and onion juice. From there, it became very popular at the Moscow court
Finally, there is also a version, which tells how the famous dish was invented by a chef called Stroganoff from the last ingredients left in the hold of the ship on which he worked.
The only sure thing is that the recipe soon spread from the tables of the Russian aristocracy to the rest of the world, in order to become a dish of international cuisine. Today, almost all countries have a typical version of beef Stroganoff.
In the 1940s, beef Stroganoff became a very popular dish in American cuisines.
The Chinese have replaced sour cream with spices.
In Brazil, beef Stroganoff is always accompanied by white rice and batata palha, shoestring potatoes. In Brazil, in addition to beef or veal, the dish is often prepared with chicken breast or shrimp.
Based on these historical sources, the recipe for beef Stroganoff was therefore probably created between the 17th and 19th centuries, but it is clear that it has undergone many culinary changes over time.
Originally, beef Stroganoff was made from large cubes of sautéed beef, topped with mustard, broth and sour cream. There were no onions or mushrooms in the original recipe.
In 1890, a cook won the Saint Petersburg gastronomy competition thanks to the beef Stroganoff, also contributing to the success of the recipe around the world.
Then in 1912, onions, paprika and tomato paste were added to it.
A few years later, mushrooms were sometimes added, but the initial version did not contain any at all.
Since then, the dish has continued to travel, exported first to China, then to the United States and Europe.
- 1 lb beef top sirloin or beef tenderloin (whole), at room temperature
- 3 medium onions cut into thin strips
- 7 oz. smetana
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 4 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 teaspoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ cup boiling water
- 3 tablespoons chopped parsley
- Black pepper freshly ground
- Parchment paper
- Wash the meat, and pat dry it well with paper towels.
- Without cutting the beef, place it between two sheets of parchment paper and beat it lightly with a mallet.
- Cut the meat against the grain into thin slices about ¼ inch (5 mm) thick and then cut it into very thin strips.
- In a Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil over medium heat and add the onion strips.
- Season with salt and pepper and sauté over low heat until golden brown, stirring regularly.
- Sprinkle the fried onion with sieved flour and mix.
- Add the smetana, mustard, paprika, and tomato paste and mix well.
- Add the boiling water and bring to a boil while mixing.
- Cook for 5 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Heat a dry pan on high heat, add the remaining oil and butter.
- Fry the meat over high heat in small portions, so that the meat sits on the surface of the pan in a single layer. The goal is to sear the meat to immediately get a crust so that all of its juice stays inside. Putting too much meat at the same time will make juice.
- Salt, at this stage, is prohibited because the salt causes the release of meat juices.
- Fry the meat for 2 to 3 minutes, turning it over, until it is crusted.
- Transfer the fried meat to the creamy onion sauce.
- Stir well and simmer for another 2 minutes over low heat or until the meat is tender.
- Finish by seasoning with salt and pepper.
- Serve with mashed potatoes, boiled potatoes, shoestring potatoes, or rice.
- Just before serving, sprinkle with chopped parsley.