I don’t know if the Russians consider Beef Stroganoff comfort food or not, but in my house, it sure is. Although the recipe originated in St. Petersburg in the 19th century, it became popular throughout Europe in the early 20th century and landed in American cookbooks mid-1930s. Because red meat was rationed during WWII in the 1940s, this recipe was considered a “gourmet” dish served by those who had money. Legend has it that the recipe was named after Count Alexander Stroganov. His chef created this dish since the Count had lost all his teeth and could no longer chew steak. He then submitted his new recipe in a culinary competition and won first prize in 1891. But wait……there is a recipe for Beef Stroganoff found in a cookbook written 30 years earlier in 1861 by Russian Elena Molokhovets, in her cookbook “A Gift to Young Housewives” . And it is said she likely named it after the Stroganov’s (whom she did not know), as they were the richest family in Russia at the time. So who knows how it started out but somewhere, somehow, a Stroganov must have been part of it!
I have had the pleasure of dining several times at the Russian Tea Room, one of the most iconic eating establishments in NYC. On my 2nd trip there I tried Beef Stroganoff, one of their signature dishes and I clearly remember the beef was cooked to perfection (not overdone or tough) and the cream sauce was silky smooth.
I then spent years working on the “not overdone” part concerning the beef and finally figured out if you cut it really thin, it cooks quickly. The Tea Room was closed for a few years in the 1990s and then again in 2002, but it bounced back and re-opened in 2006 – don’t you just love the over-the-top red decor? It’s part of their spectacular charm!
I have taken the Russian Tea Room Beef Stroganoff recipe and adapted it a bit but not too much, as I like their version the best anywhere!Ingredients: (Adapted from Russian Tea Room recipe) 1 lb. of top sirloin, cut into very thin slices 2 medium sized shallots, diced 4 oz pkg of sliced mushrooms 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 can French Onion soup 1 Tbl tomato paste 3 Tbl of cream cheese 2 Tbl Parsley 2 Tbl butter 1 Pkg No Yolks egg noodles 1/4 cup of Marsala wine or dry white wine 3/4 cup sour cream Pinch of salt
Saute the sirloin slices in a non-stick pan. Add 1 Tbl of butter to the pan (I don’t dredge the meat in flour as I feel it makes the beef taste doughy.)
Saute mushrooms, shallots, and garlic in a small amount of butter.
Add tomato paste, parsley, bit of salt and the French Onion Soup (liquid only).
1. In a non-stick fry pan add 1 Tbl butter and saute chopped shallot and garlic. Move to side of pan, and add the sirloin strips. Continually flip the beef until slightly browned. Remove everything to platter and set aside.
4. Cook the noodles while you start the next steps. I use the No Yolks brand as they are cholesterol-free and taste identical to any other noodle.
3. Add 1 Tbl butter to pan and saute the mushrooms. Add the soup (I strain out the onions and toss them). Also add the parsley, salt, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil – then let it simmer about 5 minutes. Add Marsala wine, the cream cheese and add back in the beef/shallot mixture. Toss to blend flavors.
4. Last step is to add the sour cream. You want the dish already very warm, as you need to turn down the heat to low when you add the sour cream, otherwise it will curdle. Blend it into the dish and serve on top of the noodles.
Yield: Serves 6
POINT OF INTEREST: I found many versions from many countries besides Russia and the USA all of who added their own special ingredient or spice. The Brazilians use chicken or shrimp in place of beef; the Fins add brined pickles; the Japanese add soy sauce and serve over rice that has seaweed in it; the Italians add cream cheese and basil; each adding an ingredient that is a kitchen staple in their native country, thus giving credance to the notion that Beef Stroganoff is “comfort food” everywhere!