They say that at the end of the 19th century, Alexander Stroganov, an aristocrat from a well established old Russian family, gave his name to this well-known Russia dish of beef and onions. The recipe is written in hundreds of cookbooks and one of these is “The Practical Encyclopedia of Eastern European Cooking” from 1999, found in London 6 years ago and of course tried once. I decided to write this recipe because this is the original, not the liver Stroganoff I wrote some weeks ago, which is just a version. A very tasty one but not the original. Plus, I thought of lingering in Russia for a bit. It is a wonderful country that my parents visited 22 years ago and spend the Romanian Revolution in Moscow. I remember how difficult it was for them to leave Romania as tourists even for a communist country. But they succeeded after weeks of antechamber and left just before the Revolution started. When they returned, Ceausescu was no more but they saw Russia and they were really impressed. That is why I would love to see it myself, all of it, if possible. And there was another thing that I loved about Russia: the butter. My parents told me that there was butter with every meal. And this is like paradise to me. I loved butter since I was in my mother’s womb and I suffered I couldn’t have it as often as I would have liked it. In those times, there was hardly any butter on the market and I would buy it with a ticket…half of pack a months per person. This is a very strong reason to love Russia and want to visit it. I would have butter 3 times a day! Isn’t it fantastic? 😉
Now that I have established my reasons of going there, let’s see how the Russian aristocrats of the 19th-20th century ate.
- 450 g (1 lb) fillet or rump steak, trimmed
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) sunflower oil
- 25 g (1 oz/ 2 tbsp) unsalted butter (80-82% fat)
- 1 onion, sliced
- 15 ml (1 tbsp) plain flour
- 5 ml (1 tsp) tomato purée
- 5 ml (1 tsp) Dijon mustard (or just plain mustard if you don’t have Dijon)
- 5 ml (1 tsp) lemon juice (squeeze a lemon, do not cheat with that awful lemon juice in a bottle)
- 150 ml (1/4 pint/ 2/3 cup) soured cream
- freshly ground black pepper
- fresh herbs, to garnish
- Place the steak between 2 oiled sheets of clear film or in a plastic bag. Gently beat with a rolling pin to flatten and tenderize the meat. Cut it into thin strips about 5 cm, 2 in long.
- Heat the remaining oil and half the butter in a frying pan and fry the beef over a high heat for 2 minutes, or until browned. Remove the strips of beef from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving any juices behind.
- Melt the remaining butter in the pan and gently fry the onion for 10 minutes, until soft.
- Sprinkle over the flour, and stir it in, followed by the tomato purée, Dijon mustard, lemon juice and soured cream. Return the beef to the pan and stir until the sauce is bubbling.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, and then serve immediately, garnished with fresh herbs, with deep-fried potato chips.