Simple to prepare, this hearty main dish is enjoyed throughout Europe, North America, Australia and even Asia. It originally came from 19th-century Russia and was named for the highly successful Stroganov family, whose palace can still be seen on Nevsky Prospekt in St. Petersburg. The earliest known recipe was called “Beef à la Stroganov, with Mustard” and it appeared in a classic 1861 Russian cookbook by Elena Molokhovets entitled A Gift to Young Housewives. The book, which included thousands of recipes and elaborate instructions for running a household, had pride of place in many Russian kitchens between 1861 and 1917, but after the Russian Revolution it was considered bourgeois and fell out of favor.
Today the dish is rarely made with mustard; sour cream is the more typical defining ingredient. Russians tend to eat it with fried potato straws, but it’s very often served with buttered pasta or rice.
2 lbs high-quality beef, prime cut (filet or sirloin)
Salt and pepper
5 T flour, divided
1 med onion, diced
8 oz button mushrooms, cut in half (optional)
1 T butter
4 T demi-glace*
2 C beef broth
5 oz sour cream
Slice meat along the grain into strips 1-inch long and 1/4-inch wide. Season meat with salt and pepper. Toss meat in four tablespoons of flour, reserving one tablespoon of flour for sauce. In a preheated pan, sauté meat until brown. Remove meat from pan and set aside. Add onions (and mushrooms if using) to pan and continue sautéing until a light brown.
Melt butter in a skillet and add remaining tablespoon of flour. Continue to cook on low heat for about 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Add demi-glace, beef broth and sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste. Stir all ingredients together thoroughly. Add meat, onions and mushrooms; heat very gently for 15 minutes, making sure not to let stew simmer or boil.
*You can buy demi-glace at a gourmet shop like Williams-Sonoma or Whole Foods, or in packets on amazon.com. If you do not have demi-glace, you can use a high-quality beef stock or consommé and cook it down to thicken and bring out the flavor.
Serve over buttered pasta, rice or potato straws.
Makes 4-5 servings.