How to make beef stroganoff?

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Beef stroganoff, a hearty dish of beef, mushrooms, and sour cream sauce served over egg noodles, originated in St. Petersburg, Russia, and became popular in America in the 1940s. Its recipe has evolved over time, but it remains a comforting and filling meal enjoyed around the world.

There are many so-called ethnic dishes that actually bear little or no resemblance to any food native to their country of origin. An example of this is the pseudo-Chinese dish Chop Suey. It was invented to please American palates. Beef stroganoff, however, is another matter entirely. It was invented in St. Petersburg, Russia by a Russian chef, according to legend. It is beef cooked with mushrooms in a sour cream based sauce and served on egg noodles.

The story goes that, in 1890, a cooking competition was held in that city and an inventive chef took home the first prize with his dish. Also according to the story, the chef’s main patron was Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov, and the dish was named in honor of him. Other sources claim that the basic recipe was actually much longer than the apocryphal chef and acquired the Stroganov name because he was a celebrity in Tsarist Russia. In fact, a similar recipe appeared in a Russian cookbook in 1871. Beef stroganoff began to catch on in American households in the 1940s. Whatever its origin, beef stroganoff is a savory and hearty dish enjoyed in Russia and around the world.

A good beef stroganoff uses stew meat or sliced ​​steak cubes, beef stock, mushrooms, sour cream, and paprika. A standard recipe calls for 3 pounds (1.37 kilograms) of cubed beef. Brown the beef in hot oil in a heavy saucepan and set aside. Finely chop 1/3 cup shallots or onions and saute them in 5 tablespoons of the butter. Add 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) of sliced ​​button mushrooms and saute. Season the mixture with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture evaporates. Pour in 1 cup beef broth and stir, adding 1 teaspoon cornstarch to thicken, if needed, and stir until liquid thickens. Add 1 cup sour cream, 1 1/3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, and beef to the mixture and simmer until the beef reaches your preferred state of doneness. Add paprika and black pepper to taste. Serve over wide egg noodles. Some recipes add wine or cognac with the broth, but this is optional.

Beef stroganoff undoubtedly became popular because it could be made with what cooks had on hand in the kitchen. It was a good way of prolonging meat for a family, which was scarce in those days among the proletariat, and which was also a warming and filling dish. Beef stroganoff is still a good dish for cold autumn or winter days. Like most good recipes, beef stroganoff has far outlived those who originally invented it and still remains popular.

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