Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Urals Federal District - Beef Stroganoff

Beef Stroganoff is not so much a typical Russian dish, as a recipe that is typical of Russian dishes.  What I mean is that you won't necessarily find a lot of Russians cooking a dish and calling it Beef Stroganoff (or Beef Stroganov - I prefer the slightly Frenchified spelling with double 'f'), but you will find a lot of Russians throwing together beef, mushrooms and onion, whipping it into a frenzy of soured cream and dumping a whole load of fresh parsley (петрушка) on top!

I picked this dish because it is one I've never cooked before, but also because of the historical connections with the illustrious Stroganov family, who were instrumental in opening up the Urals region to Russian colonisation.  Beef Stroganoff has travelled the world and has become popular in its more traditional forms in Hong Kong, Britain and the US.  It has also been adapted to suit local tastes in countries as far apart as Sweden and Brazil.  The dish I made was inspired by a recipe I found at


300g of steak, sliced into strips
1 large onion
150g of button mushrooms
100ml of Beef stock
A dash of Worcestershire sauce
A cap-full of good quality French brandy
I garlic clove (crushed)
4 tablespoons of sour cream
A handful of fresh parsley (chopped), plus a few sprigs of parsley to garnish
Salt and Pepper to taste


It was a very easy dish to make -

First, I fried the onion and mushroom over a medium heat for about 4 minutes, then I poured in the stock and Worcestershire sauce, let this come to boiling point, before turning down the heat and cooking the vegetables for another five minutes with the lid on and two minutes with the lid only partially on (to let out some of the steam). 

Once I'd cooked the veg, I removed them with a slotted spoon and put them in a warm dish with a lid on top.  I then added the strips of beef to the pan, bunged up the heat and let them brown in the remaining liquid. 

I remember when I was a child, our next-door neighbours bought an electric cooker and we thought it was the coolest (and poshest) thing ever, miles better than our own gas cooker!  What I wouldn't give now to cook with gas rather than electric.  I find you can control your cooking better with gas, increasing or decreasing the heat very quickly, an electric hob isn't quite as exciting any more :-(

It also meant that I couldn't 'pour in the brandy and ignite it', as the original recipe suggested.  I did try to think of ways of igniting the brandy, but decided against it for health and safety reasons (and because I quite fancy keeping my eyebrows, the Christmas photos wouldn't look the same without them!).  In the end,  I just well . . . added the brandy slowly and watched the alcohol evaporate before I'd had a chance to stir in my crushed garlic.

Once the meat was well-cooked, I returned the vegetables to the pan and cooked gently for another few minutes, before slapping on the four tablespoons of sour cream and dumping a flourish of parsley on top.  I mixed the sour cream and parsley in with the other ingredients, let it cook for another five minutes and, hey presto! the result was a successful Beef Stroganoff.

I plated it up with mashed potato, on the recommendation of my Russian partner.  I think Beef Stroganoff is traditionally served with rice in Britain and the US, but Russians prefer to have it with potato.  The result was tasty and I look forward to making it again, perhaps adding a few spices to make it a bit more interesting.

Image credits:

All photos were taken by me on my personal camera.  Please feel free to use or reproduce any of these images, for non-commercial purposes, on a share-alike attribution basis, as defined by the Creative Commons License.
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