Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stroganoff ... It's What's for Dinner

I know, one little trip to Russia and I go nuts in the kitchen! One of our tours in St. Petersburg included a luncheon of traditional Russian food, and lo and behold it was stroganoff -- one of my favorite dishes!!

A dish often attributed to the chef of Count Stroganov in St. Petersburg, Russia,  is generally served over rice or noodles.  A dish similar in ingredients and cooking instruction also appears in A Gift to Young Housewives, a Russian cookbook written by Elena Ivanovna Molokhovets in 1861 and updated regularly until 1917 when the book went out of favor in the Soviet regime as it favored the bourgeoisie .  However, it got its name or origins, it's a relatively easy dish to make with just a few ingredients.

About a pound of meat -- round steak is a good choice.  Freeze it for a little while and it makes it a bit easier to cut into thin strips about 1 1/2" long.  
1/3 cup chopped onions
1/2 lb more or less of chopped/sliced mushrooms
2 cups Beef stock or consomme
Butter and olive oil for sauteeing
Dash of nutmeg
1 teaspoon dry tarragon
salt and pepper
1/2 - 1 cup sour cream

Melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and olive oil in a large skillet and saute the onions until soft and translucent.  Add the sliced mushrooms and maybe another 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter and saute for about 2-3 minutes.  Add nutmeg, tarragon, salt and pepper and cook another minute.  Remove onions and mushrooms to bowl and set aside.

Put your meat slices in a bag with some flour and shake to coat the meat.  Melt another 2 tablespoons of butter and olive oil over medium-high heat in the same skillet used for the onion/mushroom mix and drop in the meat in to brown.  Once all the red has disappeared, lower the heat and add your consomme (I use Campbell's canned -- 1 can -- and add enough water) to cover the meat.  Give the mix a good stir and be sure to stir up any bits on the bottom.  The flour from the meat should thicken your gravy while the meat cooks. Put the lid on the skillet and simmer for about a half hour to an hour until the meat is tender.

Add back the mushrooms and onions and heat them up.  Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sour cream.  I tend to lean towards the higher amount of sour cream as I really like it ... you can also substitute plain yogurt for the sour cream.  Heat on low ... be careful not to boil with the cream in it!!

Serve immediately over noodles or rice.

Note:  Yesterday I made this dish with chicken.  Here are the substitutions I made:  a bit more nutmeg went into the mushrooms and a dash of sage instead of tarragon.  After browning the chicken, I added a few tablespoons of white wine to sort of deglaze the pan and then I used chicken stock instead of the beef stock.  Other than that it was the same.  We both cleaned our plates!

Second note:  I'm so excited that I've been able to locate a copy of the 1935 translated version of A Gift to Young Housewives!  Who knows what goodies you might see next!!

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