Friday, April 24, 2015


     A Late 1800's Befstroganov Recipe Variation!
     Befstroganov has been a popular recipe for more than 150 years.  Befstroganov does have its roots in classic Russian cuisine.  In the mid 1800's, the original Befstroganov was a recipe that many fine dining restaurants featured.  The original Befstroganov recipe was quite elegant and so were many of the ensuing recipe variations that followed through the late 1800's.  
     The original name of the first printed Stroganoff recipe was quite long, because the recipe title included a reference to the Russian Stroganov family.  Eventually the name of the recipe was shortened, so it could be easily pronounced by fine dining restaurant customers.  Befstroganov, Beef Stroganoff and just plain old Stroganoff are what most people call this recipe in modern times.

     The original Befstroganov from the mid 1800's was made with cube shaped pieces of tender beef, mustard and beef bouillon.  The recipe was perfected with the addition of sour cream or crème fraîche soon after.  There were no onions or mushrooms in the original recipe.  At some time in the late 1800's, mushrooms and onions were added to the recipe.  This version is what today's Comfort Cuisine Website recipe is based upon.

     In the early 1900's, tomato paste was sometimes added to the Befstroganov recipe and many food experts demanded that the tomato paste be written as a required ingredient in all Stroganoff recipes.  Diehard fans of the original Stroganoff recipe refused to accept the addition of tomato as a required Stroganoff ingredient and I agree with this notion.

     There are a few modern Befstroganov recipes in Russia that have no resemblance to the original recipe and they are also quite interesting.  Breaded Fried Beef Strips with french fries and catsup is one such modern Russian street food style Stroganoff recipe version.

     Today's Befstroganov recipe blog entry is very close to the late 1800's version.  I learned this recipe while working for a German chef at a country club.  The German chef's family was from Russia, so he knew quite a bit about Russian cooking.  The beef that is used to make Befstroganov must have some marbling of fat in the meat grain, so that it will be tender after cooking.  A strong tasting mustard does make a difference in this recipe.  Russian Mustard or Dijon Mustard creates a good flavor.  
     Befstroganov Recipe:
     This recipe yields 1 hearty large portion or 2 medium size servings!  
     Beef stroganoff was originally a fine dining sauté recipe that was cooked to order back in the mid 1800's.  This is a late 1800's version of the original recipe.
     Step 1:  Cut 10 ounces of top sirloin beef steak into large bite size cube shapes.
     Lightly dredge the beef cubes in flour.
     Heat a sauté pan over medium heat.
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter.
     Add the beef pieces.
     Sauté the beef, till it is fully cooked and lightly browned.
     Step 2:  Add 1 minced small shallot.
     Add 1 cup of a mixture of button cave mushrooms and small portobello field mushrooms that are cut in half.
     Sauté till the mushrooms start to become tender.
     Step 3:  Drain off any excess grease.
     Add enough clarified beef stock (beef bouillon) to cover the beef and mushrooms.  (About 2 cups.)
     Bring the beef stock to a gentle boil.
     Step 4:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon Mustard or Russian Mustard.
     Stir the mustard into the sauce.
     Add 8 to 10 pearl onions.
     Simmer and reduce the sauce, till it is a medium thin consistency.
     Step 5:  Add sea salt and white pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1/4 cup of cream.
     Add 1/4 cup of sour cream.
     Stir the sauce till the ingredients are blended together.
     Step 6:  Simmer and reduce, till the sauce becomes a medium sauce consistency that easily clings to the beef.
     Keep the Befstroganov warm over very low heat.  Add beef bouillon if the sauce becomes too thick.
     The most popular way to serve Befstroganov is over egg noodles. 
     Step 1:  Cook 1 portion of egg noodles in boiling water, till they are tender.
     Drain the water off of the egg noodles.
     Place the hot egg noodles in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter, while stirring.
     Stir till the butter melts and coats the egg noodles.
     Step 2:  Place a bed of the egg noodles on a plate.
     Spoon the Befstroganov over the egg noodles.
     Garnish with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     There is something about the flavor of a good beef stroganoff that is captivating!  Befstroganov has been popular for a very long time for one very good reason.  Befstroganov tastes fantastic!  

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