It is officially sweater (and fully-fashioned stockings) weather! I adore Autumn weather, it is the perfect mixture of moody and romantic – what I like to call “writer’s weather”. When the coastal fog begins to tumble over the hills and that first chill sets in, there are few feelings more satisfying than making a pot of something to warm your belly. While it may seem kitschy to some,Beef Stroganoff (Строганов) is hands down one of my favorite comfort foods – from the creamy slips of fresh butter, to the richness of beef and cognac with a hit of smoked paprika, and silky swirls of sour cream – it is truly one of the most luxurious meals that I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in my mouth. Luxury doesn’t have to be expensive! Simply choose the best ingredients available to you – good butter, a quality cognac, and a nice cut of steak – it is much more about technique than expensive ingredients. Some may argue against the authenticity of my recipe, and while authenticity certainly has its place, I have developed my own twist on this Russian classic to suit my own tastes.
One Winter, when my family and I lived in a tiny village name Sarafovo, which was situated along the Black Sea in Bulgaria, our mop froze to the marble floor in the kitchen. Bulgarian winters, while magical with their icicle adorned forests and tranquil powdered landscapes, were also brutally cold (no central heating!). I remember my mother standing over the stove-top for hours while making a huge pot of Beef Stroganoff, all of us children close by, little mouths watering and eagerly waiting for a hot bowlful!
Once you’ve made the Beef Stroganoff, you many find much controversy surrounding what you serve it with. I’m no such snob. I love a heaping ladle served atop fluffy white rice, silky egg noodles, or velvety mashed potatoes. I always serve my Beef Stroganoff with a rustic tear of peasant bread to soak up all of the creamy goodness. Take your pick, it is all delicious!
So there you have it – pour yourself a stiff drink, slip into something comfortable ( I prefer slipping into one of my 1940’s velvet lounge robes), and spend a lazy Sunday afternoon with something delicious simmering away on the stove-top. It will be well worth the effort, I assure you!
The Comrade General’s Beef Stroganoff
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- ½ lbs crimini mushrooms, sliced
- 1 lbs beef steak, cut in strips
- ¼ cup cognac
- 1 tbsp. smoked paprika
- sea salt
- black pepper
- ½ cup beef stock
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1 cup full fat sour cream or creme fraiche
- Smoked paprika for garnish
- Heat oil and butter in a heavy skillet and cook onions and mushrooms over medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Add cut steak to the same skillet and quickly fry over high heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Add cognac and continue cooking until alcohol burns off, add stock, mustard, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a spatula to release all the brown bits, they will add much flavor to the sauce.
- Bring mushrooms and onions back to the pan and cook for 3 minutes until everything is heated through and bubbling.
- Stir in sour cream and take off the heat.
- Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or fluffy white rice (Calrose works nicely!)
- Sprinkle with smoked paprika, if desired.
*adapted from Vikalinka’s Beef Stroganoff Recipe
The Comrade General