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Oct 9, 2010 05:22 AM

Stroganoff - What's in a name?

There seem to be some weird recipes around. When is beef Stroganoff no longer beef Stroganoff? Apart from beef and sour cream and the way it is cooked is there any ingredient which, when added to this dish defines it as another dish e,g, sweet paprika? What are its absolutely essential components?

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  1. Sherry, and beef stock, sour cream, parsley, a little tomato paste, garlic, salt and pepper, and dill. I think that's about all. Oh and nice wide noodles, buttered and parsleyed up.

    18 Replies
    1. re: chef chicklet

      CC, that is the most nontraditional recipe I have ever come across. Tomato paste? Not used in Russia or w/ Russian-Americans, ever. I've lived in the former and am the latter and I speak Russian. The tomato is not part of traditional Russian cuisine, for obvious reasons. Dill is used in many foods, but not Stroganoff.
      Fried shoe string or sliced potatoes are also traditional.

      1. re: Passadumkeg

        I agree, and also, no dill in this dish.

        1. re: Passadumkeg

          Ah ha a perfect example of how a recipe changes to suit ones tastes.
          Yes it is non- traditional but I do like it. Oops I forgot the mushrooms and onions, and nutmeg. What you don't put dill in your stroganoff? Really fried shoestring potatoes really? wow I'm way off. oh well wouldn't be the first time. The recipe came to me from a friend that was German. She also gave me her recipe for Liver Dumplings.

          Interesting though that you are saying never tomatoes, my curiosity prompted me to look at a few of my cookbooks. One such recipe by a local San Francisco chef, Stefan Gjerstad, uses tomato puree, and claims "most dishes calll a substansial amount of tomato puree" and he also added Dijon mustard. As you say, no dill. But he serves the dish with fried matchstick potatoes made from baking potatoes. He is from Stockholm, so perhaps my recipes evolved from the Scandanavian area? He does recommened Smetana sour cream, which I'm sure you're familar. Sure love to get my hands on some of that!

          I have had the traditional stroganoff that you speak of but I was told this recipe is stroganoff and I don't know enough of the history, so I know I'm wrong. Perhaps my version is Scandanavian or Jewish?

          1. re: chef chicklet

            Apparently beef stroganoff is popular in Scandinavia (Biff Stroganoff in Swedish), though I've haven't been able to find a specific recipe. Dill is a widely used seasoning in that area. Another popular variant is Korv Stroganoff, using a Swedish sausage (Kielbasa like).

            1. re: paulj

              mmm! for the sausage and I love especially dishes with sour cream. I can't imagine that stroganoff has made it to the 21st century without variations.

            2. re: chef chicklet

              <Perhaps my version is Scandanavian or Jewish?>

              If it has both sour cream and beef, you can safely rule out Jewish.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                That explains it! The Russian word "emayetz" has 2 meanings, one is enemy and the other is German!
                Tomato in the recipes seem to date to the Americanization to this recipe in the 60's. Funny in my long life, I've never had tomato in Stroganoff and if serve it in a restaurant, IO'd probably send it back. It is one of those food corruptions that just seems wrong; like adding green chile to NE chowder.

                1. re: Passadumkeg

                  According to the Wiki article:
                  ". A 1912 recipe adds onions and tomato paste and serves it with crisp potato straws, which are considered the traditional side dish in Russia.[2] The version given in the 1938 Larousse Gastronomique includes beef strips, and onions, with either mustard or tomato paste optional."

                  1. re: paulj

                    History is suspect, especially when it is only one source, the recipe comes from my grandmother, and when I don't agree. Tomato is for Italians, not Russkies.
                    My Navajo students love the irony of getting Columbus Day off from school.
                    Don't mess with someone's heritage, ethnic food and tell them about the history from a book, probably written by some effete Brit.!

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      Italians weren't the only Europeans to adopt the tomato. And around 1900 Russians were borrowing all kinds ideas, arts, architecture, and (probably) foods from various parts of Europe. The amount of borrowing varied with region, much more so in St Petersburg, less in Moscow, and even less in rural areas.

                      The use of tomato paste does not mean that they turned the dish into an Italian tomato sauce. I imagine they used a few tablespoons, enough to add a pink color to the dish, and some complexity to the flavor.

                      As for the source of this information, here's the Google books copy of the popular Russian cookbook, A Gift to Young Housewives.
                      p 214 has the early Stroganoff recipe, along with a footnote by the translator about the use of onions and tomato past by 1912.

                      1. re: paulj

                        wasn't it an Italian who finally taught Russians how to build?
                        I think it was this Italian who designed and built the famous wonderlandish churches in Moscow
                        so, Russians did learn from Italians in architecture and I'm sure they learned to appreciate their dishes as well

                  2. re: Passadumkeg

                    I'm suspect of that. Just because the "stylish and modern" parts of the russian empire were to the north, other parts to the south, bordering the black sea could grow tomatoes. And still do. Just because they were considered the backwater, doesn't mean that their recipes aren't as authentic.

                    Now I'm not saying that Stroganoff should have a tomato product in it, I'm just saying that Russian/Ukrainian food can in the southern parts.

                    Edit: By "stylish and modern" i mean what they thought 100 + years ago

                    1. re: cosmogrrl

                      "Many of the foods that are considered in the West to be traditionally Russian actually come from the Franco-Russian cuisine of the 18th and 19th centuries, and include such widespread dishes as Veal Orloff, Beef Stroganoff, and Chicken Kiev (Wikipedia, 2009)."

                      1. re: cosmogrrl

                        We're getting off track here. Stroganoff is from the north, St Petersberg, and the traditional recipe has no tomatoes. I've eaten chowder here in New Mexico and it is not at all like that in Maine. It is not traditional chowder. Just because someone puts tomatoes in a dish and calls it Stroganoff, doesn't necessarily make it Stroganoff. My spaghetti sauce usually has tomatoes, onions and mushrooms. If I add a couple table spoons of sour cream to it, what is it? Spaghetti saurce or can I call it Stroganoff?
                        Good night moon.
                        Za vasha zdrovia!

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          The tomato paste used in the early 1900s could have been imported from Greece or other southern climes. Note that even the 'traditional recipe' calls for imported allspice.

                          If my guess about the paste is right, then its use probably had more to do your openness to Continental cooking fashions than whether tomatoes were grown locally. If your chef was from France you were more likely to see imported items on your table.

                          Arguing whether tomato paste belongs in stroganoff is a bit like arguing whether baking powder (or wheat flour or lard) belongs in Navajo fry bread.

                2. re: chef chicklet

                  Hi CC
                  That's a very personal recipe. Are you sure irt qualifies as Stroganoff?

                3. From the Wiki article, it appears that this is one those dishes which has evolved over time (roughly the past century), and from country to country. So it would be helpful if posters gave their source(s), and context (e.g. your grandmother, school cafeteria version, high-end NY restaurants, Imperial Russia, French adaptation etc).

                  The version that I grew up with was made with the trimmings from a whole beef tenderloin. The only other key ingredients that I recall were mushrooms and sour cream, seasoned with L&P and s&p.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: paulj

                    Mushrooms for sure. A little mustard powder.
                    Stroganoff, if I remember correctly, was involved w/ the 18th century fur trade in Alaska.

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      You are right, the Stroganoff family were the fur trade in Western Siberia and they helped finance the czar. The traditional stroganoff was very basic, served over shoe-string potatoes. The basic sauce is beef sauce mixed with sour cream, allthough the russian sour cream is not as sour as ours is. No, it did not have dill but it sure is a flavor enhancer. Stroganoff has been modified depending on the cook or chef(some good, some mediocer).

                      1. re: igorm

                        The sour cream is called smetana. Russia is the epicenter of the wild mushroom universe.
                        Potatoes are a gift from the Peruvian Gods; witness vodka.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          you can easily get smatena in N London at the Jewish delis and also many of the regular supermarkets. My dad used to make a soupy sauce of smatena, radishes, cucumbers and spring onions on Sundays for brunch.

                          anyway back to stroganoff ..... I thought rice was an accompaniment ?

                          1. re: smartie

                            We always have it with broad egg noodles.

                          2. re: Passadumkeg

                            Is there any alchohol in the dish? I add sherry, not white wine as seen in other recipes.

                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                  Since it is alcohol, I'm sure by Russian standards, it is ok to add, but do not boil!

                      2. re: paulj

                        I agree It's time people gave credit where it is due in the world of .gastronomy. How many of the recipes that appear in the daily rash of new cookbooks have even been thoroughly tested, let alone developed by the authors!!

                      3. I'm a staunch traditionalist when it comes to Stroganoff. I was taught to make it in the middle of the last century by an elderly Russian lady who, with her husband, WALKED from Moscow to Istanbul to escape the Bolsheviks. (How's that for a romantic story?) Tensela stressed heavily that the ONLY ingreidents in Stroganoff are butter, beef, onions, mushrooms, sour cream, salt, pepper, and a little scrape of nutmeg. Anything more is heresy.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: Caroline1

                          She musta been my babyshka (grandmother)!
                          Russia is, however, a big country. I see a lot aof modern recipes w/ tomato, but it is not in my experience.
                          One of my grandmother's sisters made it from Leningrad to Valadisvostok, vi China and then to New Jersey! Alexandra was her name, of course.
                          We're neighbors now!

                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            Anyone who puts tomatoes in Stroganoff should be summarily shot! Or tethered to a stake in Siberia for three winters naked!

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              I was afraid I'd get banned again if I said that. thank you.
                              Tomatoes are not part of Russian cuisine, like green chiles are not part of New England food.
                              I think I'll make New England Clam chowder w/ green chiles! Yum.

                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Beef Strogie does not need tomatoes, but their cousin those chiles would be somewhat interesting.

                                Heck, if you're wanting to mix that New Mex high country with coastal Maine chowder with a bit of Muscowskie: it would seem sour cream, cubed 'taters, and beef, with a bechamel as in chowdering, with subtle ground clams in the besch for more thickening. 'Shrooms are a given, but never no 'maters... and a dollop on top of green chiles. I've been guilty before, to add Dill I adore, and it's sure as heck northern European.

                                Let us know how it goes, since you're buying canned clams. But you're damn sure getting God's greatest chiles. Don't tell species on 'shrooms... some have extra Varoooom... just add at the end and heat gently.

                                What will be jist, of Maine- Mex- Moscow twist, of a dish so sublime as good Stroganoff?

                                1. re: FoodFuser

                                  Man, add cheese and make a chile con queso, mushroom, clam chowdah!
                                  A green chile Stroggielero!

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    Patient now, dear Passum, as ye construct the recipe.

                                    The beef, the sour cream, the mushrooms, and the yes: chile.

                                    I can't see whole clams bulging and competing with the rest.

                                    That's why the ground canned bivalves seem best simmered with the besch.

                                    Cheese? Hell's bells, must be a New Mex thing.

                                    The silky smooth smetana is the flavor you should bring.

                                    I still await your recipe from the neat tri-polar thing. New Mex, old Maine, and Muskie could sure give blended zing.

                                    That doesn't mean that you're secure on a stout three-legged stool. It means become triumvirate... give us guide that makes us drool.

                                    1. re: FoodFuser

                                      Tongue is not in the tacos, it is in my cheek.

                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Some restaurants here make a version of NE Clam with green chiles and a few other changes, they call it Maritime Chowder although it is only clams, no fish. A bit of cheese may be involved. Still haven't found the definitive recipe.

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    then tomatoes arent italian cuisine.
                                    and tempura isnt japanese, after all, the portuguese brought that to them.
                                    pork and beef cant be part of american cuisine.
                                    potatoes cant be russian cuisine or irish cuisine.

                                3. re: Caroline1

                                  Curious that my grandmother walked from Moscow to China too, I think Harbin initially, in about 1907. Her Stroganoff had quality beef cut against the grain in thin strips, sour cream, mushrooms, s&p. Certainly no tomato, no dill and never dream'd of paprika.

                                  1. re: 1001dinners

                                    Moscow to China (well, depending on what part) is one hell of a lot farther than Moscow to Istanbul! Those ladies had good legs!l Tensela told me that beef Stroganoff may have somehow had the count's name associated with it, but that the reality was/is that it is a very old traditional dish made by farmer's wives across the country from what they had on hand: Beef, onions, mushrooms, butter, smetana, salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Sounds logical to me. I've never heard of any Russian farmers, under the czars, growing tomatoes!

                                    Today we think of nutmeg as something that goes in pumpkin pies and hot toddies, but go back in time a hundred or more (much more!) years and you will find nutmeg was used to mask the aroma/flavor of meat that was "off." Not quite rotten enough to throw away, but old enough it needed a little help in the disguise department.

                                  2. re: Caroline1

                                    I learned mine from an old Russian lady who escaped the Civil War to San Francisco.

                                    Her ingredients were the same as Caroline1's, but without the nutmeg. My own personal heresy is a pinch of thyme, and a bit of white wine.

                                    The trick she taught me that helps most is to do the cutting and browning the day before, one ingredient at a time, set it all aside in a bowl with the sour cream and a little flour stirred in, and leave in the refrigerator pver night. To serve, heat in a skillet, with white wine, and add more sour cream, salt and pepper to taste.

                                    Another trick I have used is ground, powdered dried mushrooms of your choice added to the mix in the bowl.

                                    PS: If you ever want a laugh, look at Escoffier's recipe. Boeuf Bourgignon with some sour cream added. Anybody want to guess about his recipe for gulyash?

                                  3. The Stroganoff entry from Food TIme Line


                                    The 1861 recipe quoted there uses tender beef, allspice, butter, salf, flour, sour cream, prepared mustard. Onions, tomato paste and/or mushrooms appear in recipes from a century ago.

                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: paulj

                                      Tx paulj,
                                      That's a reference I had not seen. It is possible, tho unlikely, the name derived from a Russian word 'stragatz' meaniing to shave or slice thin.

                                      1. re: paulj

                                        I too have not seen this source and have book marked it. Thanks.
                                        Wasn't it Count Pizztrovich that is given credit for the origin of pizza?

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          well guess what paulj, tonight this recipe ( Elena Molokhovets' Beef Strogonoff) is what's for dinner at our house.

                                          hubby wanted stroganoff tonight for dinner, he told me that as he was driving off the driveway.
                                          I assumed I'd make it as usual with the standard ingredients but after reading this, I'll do it.
                                          not sure about the mustard.......what kind is used? it's said to be prepared but not sure, yellow, dijon, or something else? anyone know?

                                          1. re: iL Divo

                                            "1 teaspoon Sareptskaja mustard" according to the Foodtimeline quote

                                            I looked that up and found a CI recipe (not behind a paywall), that says "As for the mustard, the traditional Russian choice, Sareptskaja (a sweet-hot blend), isn’t widely available, so we replaced it with a paste made of dry mustard bloomed in warm water, seasoned with sugar and black pepper."

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              you are such a help to me paulj, I needed that because I had no clue.
                                              I just bought a small little can of dry chinese mustard at the bargain bin at Von's.
                                              so I can do it plus have sugar and pepper.
                                              thanks for helping me.

                                          2. re: paulj

                                            hubby is still not home, he's late.
                                            BUT, I tasted it.
                                            had a few tiny slices of beef, got fillets for this dish tonight.
                                            she mentioned having tender beef.
                                            the chinese mustard that I drummed up came out to 1 T.
                                            the recipe callls for 1 t.
                                            the allspice went into a cheesecloth bundle.
                                            I ended up using the entire T of mustard and when hubby walks in, I'll pull out the allspice.
                                            the flavors of this stroganoff are differernt from mine of course and absolutely incredible.
                                            I am thankful for the link as I'd have not known of it otherwise.
                                            can't wait to have hubby taste this dinner.

                                            1. re: iL Divo

                                              hubby said it was delicious.
                                              he also said it's not my recipe though.
                                              hope that means both are good.

                                          3. As you titled your topic, "Stroganoff - What's in a name?" here's another offshoot, giving the modest hamburger some class.
                                            Boulettes fo Beef Stroganoff, meatballs in a stroganoff sauce made with cognac, nutmeg, paprika, mushrooms, onions, dry sherry, heavy cream, sour cream, brown sauce?, and parsley. Again no dill. A nice version if you're on a budget.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: chef chicklet

                                              I make something like this a lot in the crock pot, meatballs, an strog-like sauce (I should be careful not to call it stroganoff lest someone recommends my execution) and my pre-carmelized onions that I always have in the freezer. So good over noodles!