Beef Stroganoff

  • Time: 40 minutes
  • Serves: 4
  • Level: easy
A traditional Stroganoff recipe. Don't scoff because it's a recipe from the prawn cocktail era, it's still a good recipe, One everybody should learn.

What you need

500g – 600g flat iron steak or bavette

1 large onion

4 cloves of garlic

250g mushrooms

125ml white wine

250ml chicken stock

2 tsp good quality aged balsamic vinegar (optional)

1 tbs tomato puree (optional)

2 tsp ordinary good quality paprika (optional)

2 bay leaves

Several sprigs fresh thyme

Several sprigs fresh tarragon

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

200ml creme fraiche, half fat creme fraiche or soured cream

Fresh chopped parsley to garnish (optional)

Dad's Recipe Tales

Beef Stroganoff may be a nostalgic relic of the 70’s, but I think of it as a timeless classic. I’ve always made it for my family, just as my mother made it for her family. Strogonoff is said to have originated in 19th-century Russia before travelling to China in the early 20th-century and later to America with Chinese and Russian immigrants as well as US servicemen. The early Russian version was a beef stew made with mustard, bouillon and sour cream (and sometimes tomato). As it made its way around the world it was adapted to suit local cuisines. At some point on its travels it picked up mushrooms as a key constituent, while as it passed through Eastern Europe it may have also picked up paprika. Our mother made it without tomato, mustard or paprika and added extra pepper and tarragon, just as I usually do. Our paprika-free version becomes steak in a mushroom and sour cream sauce, flavoured with wine, pepper and tarragon. It’s a flavour combination that is hard to resist and easy to cook. To me these flavours are the signature tastes for a Stroganoff and the basis of many of my recipes.

The Stroganoff paper bag story

Early in our marriage and at the very beginning of my cookery journey, we entertained my wife’s good friend and her husband. She was a home economics teacher and a highly accomplished cook, he was a rather serious mathematician. Although I had eaten many of my mother’s beef Stroganoffs, I never cooked cooked one myself. Still, I thought it would be good to demonstrate my interest in cooking and volunteered to make it for our guests. At the time, the traditional way to prepare the steak for Stroganoff, was to cut the meat in cubes (not strips) and coat in flour using a paper bag. I duly put a little flour in a paper bag, followed by a big handful of wet cubed steak. The flour only helped to clump the meat together in a large sticky ball, which immediately attached itself to every part of the paper bag. Aghast at my ineptitude – and the calamity unfolding in my hands – I started to panic, just as our guest, the expert cook, popped into the kitchen for a chat. Not wanting to confess my predicament, or expose my nascent cookery skills, I attentively engaged in a friendly conversation, all the while, nonchalantly picking tiny pieces of paper bag cemented to the messy mass of meat, hoping that I could pass it off as normal technique for making Stroganoff. Happily the final dish turned out fine. We were all too polite to discuss the incident during the meal, however, in later years we would often remember the time I tried to flour steak in a paper bag and end up in fits of laughter. It was one of the most embarrassing moments in my life – but also one of the funniest.

How Dad Cooked It

In the recipe above I have enriched and the sauce with paprika and tomato, which gives the dish a slightly Slavic character – but who knows if it was anything like what might have been served to the Stroganovs in St. Petersburg. If you want to make a Stroganoff as I describe in the story above, simply omit the tomato and paprika.

You can make this with any kind of beef. Some recipes use fillet or rump/sirloin. However, as the meat will be cut into slices, these more expensive and tender cuts might be better enjoyed as a steak. Bavette and flat iron are ideal for slicing and flash frying. They have good flavour will be tender in strips. Tougher cuts can also be used but should be cooked separately and braised until tender before adding the sauce.

The meat for this recipe is from CD Jennings and Sons, Surbiton.

1. Fry the vegetables. Chop the onion and garlic into a fine dice and fry on a medium high heat in 2 tablespoons light olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter for about 8 minutes, until soft. Slice the mushrooms and add to the onions with the herbs. Continue to fry for about 8 minutes (Alternatively, put a lid on the pan and turn down the heat – this extract the moisture from the mushrooms, then turn up the heat to burn off the liquid).

2. Start the sauce. Add the wine to the mushrooms and let it boil for a couple minutes to evaporate the alcohol. Add the tomato, paprika and balsamic, if using. Then add the stock, herbs and pepper and bring to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes. Take off the heat for a minute and then carefully add the creme fraiche or cream. Stir into the sauce. Slowly bring back to simmer.

3. Fry the steak. Slice the steak at an angle against the grain. Fry in batches on a high heat in a non-stick pan using a little light olive oil. The meat should brown but still have pink areas. Keep batches on a separate plate until all the meat is cooked. Deglaze the pan with about 100ml of water and retain.

4. Finish the sauce. Add the steak and pan juices to the mushrooms sauce and heat very gently. The idea is to warm the sauce without over-cooking the meat. NB: I have not used flour for this sauce as I find it does not need thickening. A looser sauce is also nicer to eat on rice or pasta. However, if you do want a thicker sauce, make a roux and add it to pan after adding stock, allowing extra time to cook-out.

5. Serve. I like this either on brown rice or taglietelle, spinach and broccoli are ideal accompaniments. Season with salt and pepper, or perhaps some lemon if it needs more acidity.


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