Tender Beef cooked with Mushrooms and finished with tangy sour cream and gherkins. This quick dish is a perfect weeknight treat. Serves 4
Beef Stroganoff was one of the first dishes I learned to cook, and the recipe looked a lot like this one.
Originating in 19th century Russia, Beef Stroganoff has found popularity around the world and can now be considered a must-inclusion in any classical recipe collection. Its name comes from the influential Stroganov’s, a Russian family dating back as far as Ivan the terrible and consisting of influential Russian merchants, statesmen and landowners.
The first known recipe appeared sometime in the 19th century and featured cubed beef coated with salt and allspice before being cooked in butter. A simple roux sauce, mixed with mustard and a little smetana, an eastern European version of soured cream. Since then, various iterations of the dish have appeared, incorporating mushrooms, tomatoes, and on occasion, peppers. As to does the cut of meat. Beef stroganoff variation depends on where you are in the world and at what point in time you first encountered a creamy beef stroganoff.
Beef Stroganoff with a Side of Everything
Depending on the recipe, beef stroganoff often has a wide range of recommended side dishes to accompany it. For me, I prefer fresh pasta, but my brother would argue for steamed rice. My mum on the other hand, would demand buttery mash potatoes. My dad would argue for all three. The Russians, however, consider twisty potato straws as the traditional side dish to accompany Beef Stroganoff.
Beef Stroganoff is a quickly cooked dish which means any type of tender beef can be used. However, I’ve opted for rump steak as it’s more economical and boosts a greater flavour than some more expensive cuts, such as fillet. Beef fillet, however, also makes an excellent choice as it has a smooth meltingly tender texture. Sirloin and Ribeye will also work with this recipe, but the best choice, is always the best beef you can afford.
The beef is further tenderised by flattening the meat by lightly bashing it with a meat mallet. To flatten the beef, place the steaks between two sheets of cling film. Make sure to leave enough room between the steaks as they will expand as they’re pounded. Using a meat mallet, or a rolling pin if you don’t have one, lightly beat the steaks until they’ve flattened to ½ a centimetre in thickness. Slice the beef into centimetre-thick slices.
Mushrooms weren’t traditionally added to beef stroganoff but were later added in various reinventions of the dish. And they remain here because I love them. They also work well with beef and cream-based sauces, so their inclusion seems obvious, even if that wasn’t always the case.
Brandy isn’t strictly necessary here and is something that has snuck into a beef stroganoff recipe as it evolved. Sometimes, if I have any to hand ill add it. Sometimes, I’ll replace it with whisky, of which I have an abundance, or ill use white wine. All three would give slightly different flavour to the finished sauce. However, most of the time, I’ll omit it.
The sour cream used in Russia, is known as Smetana, a soured double cream used in eastern and central Europe. It is similar to crème fraiche which is a soured cream with a higher fat content at around 28% making it a stable soured cream for cooking.
I’m using crème fraiche here for its stability, and its accessibility as it can be found in most supermarkets. However, regular sour cream can also be used. If using regular sour cream, add right at the end of cooking, and do not allow the sauce to boil as this will curdle the cream.
Acidic gherkins cut through the richness of the beef, and the creamy sauce while adding another depth of flavour. They can be substituted with diced, or sliced gherkins, or omitted entirely depending on your preferences.
500g Rump Steaks, Flattened, and Thinly Sliced
1 Tsp of Paprika
2 Tbsp Plain Flour
½ Tbsp Salt
½ Tbsp Black Pepper
40g Knob of Butter, Halved and Separated
2 Banana Shallots, Sliced
3 Garlic Cloves, Crushed
250g Chestnut Mushrooms, Washed and Sliced
50ml Brandy, Optional
120ml of Beef Stock
150ml Crème Fraiche or Sour Cream
1 Tsp of Dijon Mustard
Chopped Parsley, or Chives
4-5 Gherkins, Diced
- Combine the flour with the paprika, salt, and black pepper. Then, coat the beef with the flour mixture and shake off the excess.
- In half of the butter in a large sauté pan and flash fry until golden brown, but beef maintains some of its reddish colour. Drain, and set aside.
- Heat the other half of the butter and soften the shallots over a medium heat until translucent. Then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms are tender.
- Add the brandy and set alight, if using, then add the beef stock once the flames subside.
- Stir in the crème fraiche and mustard, and simmer for 1-2 minutes.
- Return the beef to the sauce, and season to taste.
- Finish with chopped parsley or chives, and cornichons.