Better beef stroganoff

It’s seems that Baron Stroganoff, inventor of this recipe, was a real person and not some fairy tale Russian chef. But something tells me that this version is even better than anything the late baron ever cooked in his castle’s kitchen.

Better beef stroganoff
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 To make beef stroganoff with mushrooms for four diners you will need:

  • 1kg beef fillet trimmings
  • 400g portabellini mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse French mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tomato concentrate
  • 2 medium onions
  • ¹⁄³ cup white flour
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup Chenin Blanc
  • ½ cup chicken or beef stock
  • ¾ cup crème fraiche
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt and additional black pepper after tasting, if required

To begin: you can substitute the fillet trimmings with cubed topside, the portabellini with button mushrooms and the crème fraiche with sour cream. Fillet trimmings are a recent discovery for me. Also known by my butcher as ‘bucket meat’, they’re pieces of fillet removed prior to packaging or display. For this meal they have a major advantage over lesser cuts of beef, being tender and lean.

Stage one of the preparation consists of mixing the half teaspoon of ground black pepper with the flour. Pour into a large airtight plastic bag and add the fillet trimmings. Give a good shake to cover all meat surfaces with the seasoned flour, then remove the meat from the bag and discard the residue. Select a heavy-based frying pan and pour in a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Bring this up to medium heat and brown the floured fillet trimmings.

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Cook small batches at a time to maintain the cooking temperature. Remove the cooked beef with a slotted spoon and allow it to drain on clean brown paper or paper towels. Peel and thinly slice the two medium onions. Add the remainder of the olive oil to the frying pan and sweat the onions at medium heat, stirring from time to time until they become soft and translucent. Cut the mushrooms in half. (If using button mushrooms, leave them whole.) Add to the onions in the pan and let them cook for six minutes.

Mix the paprika, coarse mustard, tomato concentrate, chicken or beef stock and the Chenin Blanc in a bowl, then pour the mixture into the frying pan with the mushrooms and onion. Boil briefly and let the contents simmer for a few minutes. Lower the heat, add the cooked fillet trimmings to the frying pan and mix in the crème fraiche or sour cream. Stir well to evenly distribute the ingredients and as soon as the crème fraiche is warm, remove from the pan and serve.

Garnish each serving with sprigs of Italian parsley. This splendid meal is equally happy with mashed potatoes, pasta or rice. A crisp, well-chilled Chenin Blanc complements this meal, as does my personal favourite, ultra cold Windhoek Lager. Enjoy, knowing that your stroganoff is better than the baron’s.

Contact David Basckin at [email protected]. Please state ‘Real cooking’ in the subject line of your email.