Because I didn’t get around to grinding-up Sushi The Cat’s finest, organic steak in time for her to enjoy last week, I was forced to put Beef Stroganov on our Saturday night dinner menu so that it didn’t go to waste. It’s come to something when our puss-cat is apparently more of a fussy eater than her health conscious owners, but there you have it. According to Sushi, if anything is left in the refrigerator for more than 3 days before mincing and freezing it down for cat food, it’s not fit for her to eat. Her loss.
However, I hadn’t just been lackadaisical in prepping Sushi’s meals. Every week there is a last minute panic for me to create something fabulous that will use up all the previous week’s Riverford organic fruit and vegetables so we have enough fridge space to store the current week’s delivery. Inevitably, I get so excited when I’m placing my regular Riverford order that I double-up on fruit and veggies still not eaten from the week before. On this occasion, I had mushrooms, onions, a pack of salad leaves, organic cream, lemon and cauliflower leftovers. I suppose it’s a testament to the lack of air miles and their just-picked freshness, but I always marvel at how Riverford’s produce stays ‘alive’ for so long - especially their bags of organic salad leaves. Truly, the salad you see in the photos had been sat in my fridge for over a week! Anyway, I had everything I needed to put together, what is for us, a rare treat.
It must be in the 1960’s that I last made Beef Stroganov. Back then it was the height of sophistication to order this dish in a posh restaurant and have it cooked at your table in an elaborate chafing dish by the maître d’ (headwaiter). As rich-tasting and as luxurious as this meal is, if you don’t even need to be in the kitchen to cook it, it’s clearly not that difficult to make!
Beef Stroganov is named after Count Pavel Stroganoff (1774–1817) or should that be Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov? I think it should, and named my recipe accordingly. The ridiculously wealthy, Europe-hopping, Russian Count Pavel Stroganov was born in Paris and later employed French chefs. For me, just one delicious mouthful of lightly sautéed, tender beef in its creamy, tangy sauce tells me that Beef Stroganov’s origins are clearly French. It was in fact gourmet Pavel’s renowned French chef who adapted a simple beef fricassee from a textbook recipe by adding Smetana (a type of soured cream from Eastern Europe), and then christened it Beef Stoganov after his Russian employer. Rich food for rich people! I like to think that Beef Stroganov was perhaps one of the first fusion foods to be invented.
Pure, simple and indulgent, don’t be tempted to make Beef Stroganov with anything other than prime, organic, grass-fed steak. Fillet steak is best, but the good news is that you need about a third less meat for this recipe than you do when cooking individual steaks, and the finished dish is so deeply satisfying that you won’t even notice that ‘less’ has remarkably transformed itself into ‘more’. Partnered up with cauliflower ‘rice’ and a fresh green salad drizzled over with the finest olive oil and balsamic vinegar, it’s a dish fit for Counts, Kings and all of us that are primally-orientated towards turning our bodies into fat-burning mode rather than sugar-burning.
Enjoy with a decent bottle of organic no-added-sulphur red wine and you’ll soon see why this quick to make, full of flavour, ultimate comfort food earned itself the reputation of fancy-pants dining in restaurants in the 1960’s. Because it can be on the table in less than thirty minutes, I think it’s a classic that’s perfectly suited to make a comeback in our kitchens, with or without my kitty’s approval!
Beef Stroganov (Serves 4)
45g organic unsalted butter
3 organic onions, very thinly sliced
250g organic chestnut mushrooms, sliced
600g organic beef steak, cut into strips
organic black pepper, freshly ground
1 tsp organic whole grain or Dijon mustard
250ml organic full-fat creme fraîche, sour cream or fresh organic double cream soured with the juice of ½ an organic lemon
small handful of organic flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
Heat half the butter in a heavy frying pan and fry the onions slowly over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until soft and golden brown. Lift out with a slice and keep warm.
Add the mushrooms to the pan and quickly fry over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Keep warm with the onions.
Add the rest of the butter to the frying pan and turn the heat up to high. Very quickly stir-fry the steak for 1-2 minutes on each side until it is seared brown on both sides. N.B. Take care that the juices don’t run. To avoid this, fry the meat in two batches - overcrowding the pan will ‘steam’ the meat rather than fry it.
Return all the meat to the pan, season well, then add the mushrooms and onions. Shake everything together over a high heat, then pour in the soured cream and add the mustard, stirring it in well.
When everything is bubbling, finally stir in the parsley and take off the heat.
Serve with mounds of cauliflower ‘rice’ and a fresh green salad dressed with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over.
Carbohydrate 6g Protein 25g - per serving