a bit about beef stroganoff
What is about beef stroganoff that makes it such a classic dish? Even if you have never eaten it or prepared it, no doubt you’ve heard of it somewhere. The first recipes appeared in the early 19th century, and were named after Count Pavel Aleksandrovich Stroganov (1774-1817), a Russian aristocrat.
The Stroganoff family had an illustrious history in Russian politics and aristocracy. Having formed an alliance with Ivan the Terrible, the family became the rulers of Siberia in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Their cunning allowed them to become part of the Russian aristocracy that spent much of the 17th century moving back and forth between Russia and France.
Count Pavel was actually born in France. Later in life, still moving between the two countries, he hired a French chef. It is believed that the foundation for the Stroganoff recipe was a mixture of a French mustard seasoning which was then mixed with sour cream (a popular ingredient in Russian cuisine). It is not exactly clear how the recipe left the dining room of the Count and became one of Russia’s most important comfort foods.
After the fall of the Russian Tsars, the dish appeared in Chinese cuisine and made its way to the US via Russian and Chinese immigrants after World War II. A more “cafeteria” style version was adapted into mainstream American kitchens when canned mushroom soup mixed with varying meats over noodles replaced the classic version.
In Russia the dish is more commonly served over french fried potatoes, mashed potatoes or rice. Potatoes were introduced into Russia during the reign of Catherine the Great (1762- 96) but not fully cultivated until 1850 when decreed by Czar Nicholas I. The initial reluctance was due to the Orthodox Church claiming potatoes were not mentioned in the bible and therefore, not a proper part of a diet.
We have come a long way from worrying about the role of a potato in our diets, and whether you choose to serve Beef Stroganoff with potatoes, rice or noodles, the delicious flavors of the dish will not disappoint.