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Beef Stroganoff, my take on Thomas Kellers Ad Hoc Recipe

What do you do when you buy cream for a dish and you only need about a third of it? Well, you embark on a two day preparation of beef stroganoff of course. I know that's not what most of you were thinking but perhaps next time you have leftover cream, you will...

Lately, I've been trying to cook intuitively; you know, think about what's in the fridge and pantry and bang out a really good dish. It's been going well, hopefully you'd agree with me since the products most often end up here, in the blogosphere. I decided that I need to mix it up a bit and execute some recipes from my favorite chefs. In my opinion, an experience even the best home cooks need to do on a regular basis. So the first in my recipes entries is, Beef Stroganoff by Thomas Keller. For those of you that don't know who he is, let me first say that I have a bit of a man crush on him. Not only did he lead the only west coast three-star Michelin rated French Laundry in Napa, he has his prints all over several other culinary creations ranging from cook books to television to other restaurants. Never have I executed a recipe more intricate and detail meticulous than one of Kellers. I have his Ad Hoc at Home book; he claims that it is a gourmet interpretation of classic home-cooked favorites. When I hear, "home-cooked favorites," I picture tasty one pot, rustic dishes that get right to the flavor point. The recipes in Ad Hoc are as complicated as the blueprints for a nuclear reactor. Okay, I exaggerate a bit but they are intense. I'll get right to the point, here is my execution of his stroganoff.

Add leeks, mushrooms, onions, carrots, garlic, thyme, and bay leaves to a bottle of red wine and reduce until the wine is a glaze.

Meanwhile sear the beef (should have been boneless short rib, I used boneless chuck roast instead) in oil and set aside

Chop up more aromatics and spices (leeks, carrots, onions, thyme, and bay leaf), add them to the wine glaze and cover with cheese cloth to create a pillow for the beef to rest upon.

Add beef broth to the pot.

Create a parchment lid, cover the braise, and place in oven for about two hours.

Remove beef, strain, and reserve braising liquid.

The ingredients for the rest of the dish are below. I told you Keller was intense. It's no wonder The French Laundry can get away charging a minimum of $240 for a prix fixe dinner, without wine. Cream, creme fraiche, mushrooms, butter, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, cubed braised beef, parsley, canola oil, noodles (pappardelle preferably).

Add cream and sachet of bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns.

Meanwhile brown mushrooms in butter and canola oil. Keller instructs to turn each mushroom over after three minutes to brown both sides.

The same goes for the braised beef, browned and flipped. Then into the oven for about ten minutes.

The cream sauce is blended and strained and put back on a low flame. The browned mushrooms are then added.

The finished product was as good as it looks. The beef would have been much more tender had it been short rib but I did enjoy the chuck roast for it's deep beefy beefiness. The preparation of the beef, while labor intense and time consuming, left a nice little crisp to the browned bits. The mushroom cream sauce is the true star of this dish though. The processing and later blending of the mushrooms embedded the essence of mushroom deeply through the layers of silky cream, tangy creme fraiche, and peppery thyme. Seasoned with gray or sea salt and chopped parsley, the dish is as visually stunning as delectable.

Paired nicely with a dry red, in this case a Barbera.

You can see the pictures of each step on my blog!

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  1. Sounds like a great stew - but to this linguistic purist, not Stroganoff. The meat in Stroganoff (traditionally tenderloin, but sirloin will do) must be quick-seared, definitely not slow-braised.

    And I say that as someone who LOVES to braise meats!

    9 Replies
    1. re: BobB

      That reminds me of a joke I heard years ago.

      A man orders Beef Stroganoff in a restaurant and, when it is brought to the table it's beef in a tomato sauce with zucchini and is topped with melted cheese.

      The man takes one look at it and says to the waiter: "Hold on! This is not what I ordered. I ordered beef stroganoff! There must be a mix-up! The waiter tries to calm him down and goes back into the kitchen. He emerges with the chef. The customer again says he was not served beef stroganoff.

      The chef bangs his fist on the table, saying "Of course it's beef stroganoff. I am Stroganoff!"

      1. re: BobB

        does it count if it was quick seared before the braise?

        1. re: jayspun

          Not really - slow cooking makes it a whole other dish. Not to knock it - it does look fantastic - my objection is purely to the use of the same name for two quite different dishes.

          1. re: BobB

            A couple things. What the "authentic" or "original" version of the dish actually is, is a mystery. The earliest known recipe for something called beef a la Stroganoff called for mustard, but no onions or mushrooms. So given that original recipe, few if any American versions should be called beef Stroganoff. Different societies prepare the dish in very different ways - some use tomato paste, some use tomatoes, some use mustard, some use heavy cream. Yet they are all recognized as "beef Stroganoff". There's a version in the US, which is what folks are used to, which is why anything that deviates from the sour cream, shrooms, onions, and strips o beef is called a bastardized version or a completely different dish altogether. But that reflects the American version of the dish - not how it's viewed internationally.

            We could easily say the same thing about coq au vin - that anything that doesn't use an old rooster and isn't braised for 2 days shouldn't be called coq au vin, because the dish was made specifically for dealing with very old chickens that were very tough. Does that mean that dishes that use anything less than an old rooster on death's doorstep shouldn't be properly called coq au vin? Or take chicken cacciatore - there are as many versions of that dish (starting with whether tomatoes are added or not) as there are Italians.

            I get that at some point, a recipe strays so much from the original that it shouldn't use the same name. But I hardly think Keller's version of Beef Stroganoff is so far off base that it's a different dish. Different than what you are used to? Maybe. But any different than what you would find in any number of restaurants worldwide? Not at all.

          1. re: BobB

            Wow. The nitpicking that went on this thread is amazing. So heres a bit more. How in the hell does this dish even remotely resemble a stew?

            Keller states many times how dish is a variation on the classic AMERICAN Version of Stroganoff that was popularized in the `70s by thousands of housewives using Cambells Cream of mushroom soup. Have I had version he refers to?

            Yes, many times.

            Would I ever make it myself?

            Not a chance.

            Did my childhood seem `seriously deprived`in any way because sometimes Mom whipped this off in between coming home from work and driving us to baseball or soccer or hockey games?

            Hell no. What an utterly snobbish thing to suggest.

            Kellers VERSION of Beef Stroganoff is amazing. the pieces that compose the dish are, each one, a revelation. If you ordered this in Ad Hoc, and had the willpower to send it back after tasting it, then you are ........(I was going to say an incredibly strong person. But I will say what Im thinking, and finish the sentance with)....a complete idiot.

            1. re: RodVito

              Is there an Ad Hoc Shepherds Pie?

              1. re: RodVito

                Wow yourself. You have to write eight times as much as my brief comment - which if you'll bother to read carefully, in no way denigrates the taste or quality of Keller's food AT ALL - just to insult me?

                Have a nice day.

            2. Kudos to you for taking on a complex recipe and executing it well, but booo for Thomas Keller for not coming up with an original name for an original dish. It does not even vaguely resemble beef Stroganoff, which never never ever has carrots in it, much less red wine, and uses sour, not fresh cream. It is a lot closer to boeuf Bourguignon, except that dish NEVER has cream in it. Nevertheless it does sound like an interesting dish. Maybe it should be named beef Keller? I don't know why some chefs -- Keller and others -- can be so damned creative in coming up with new dishes and so ridiculously lazy that they have to trade on the name of a long established and famous dish. If I ordered beef Stroganoff from the menu at one of Keller's restaurants and was served that, I would be VERY upset!

              3 Replies
              1. re: Caroline1

                The carrots and wine are only used in the braise; the sauce ends up very traditional in it's creamy mushroomess. Also, as far as I can tell, sour cream is very traditional and the sauce is cream based. I do, however, think you make an excellent point about naming new dishes.

                1. re: jayspun

                  The fact that Keller's heavily bastardized version of Stroganoff requires any sort of precooking of the beef is a major part of the problem that comes with calling the dish "Stroganoff." Traditional Stroganoff compares more readily with a Chinese stir fry than with a braise. In traditional Stroganoff, as well as the more modern "gourmet" versions that use tenderloin instead of a more "utilitarian" cut of beef, the major time commitment in preparing the dish comes with the prep -- slicing the three primary ingredients; onions, mushrooms and beef -- and then sauteing them separately with the onions and mushrooms sauteed until soft and the beef sauteed only briefly to a very medium rare, then the three are combined and brought quickly to heat and then removed from the stove and sour cream is added to ensure that the sour cream does not break. Its a wonderfully flavorful dish, and like so many Chinese stir fries, the fast simple cooking is critical to the final flavorful result.

                  Like BobB, my problem is with Keller's language, not with the recipe. If Keller was an artist, this would be abstract impressionism but he's trying to label it as realism. It just doesn't fly. There was a time, and not too long ago, when chefs respected the culinary language and did not try to muddy it. Keller is taking the art of obfuscation to new heights with this one! Shame on him! Bravo for you executing his recipe well. But any way you slice it, it ain't Stroganoff! '-)

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    People, let's have a little dose of reality. There's nothing wrong with Keller calling that dish Stroganoff. It has the main ingredients and the basic preparation. Does he take some liberties? Sure he does. So what?

                    And for that dose of reality, one of the original Stroganoff recipes from the mid 19th century Russian cookbook called for cubes of beef with mustard, no onions or mushrooms. Yet it was called "Beef a la Stroganoff", and was (by many accounts) the first such recipe. Several years later, various recipes included (or not) tomato paste and mustard.

                    There are many preparations for the dish. In The US, the cream, mushrooms, onions, and strips of meat is the "authentic" version, but in other countries (including some closer to Russia geographically), there are significant differences, such as using a tomato based sauce, or a white wine based sauce, or heavy cream (and not sour cream).

                    For what it's worth, I'm not sure Keller needs to be called out for his preparation of Stroganoff. There's nothing "bastardized" about it - because there's no single correct preparation of the dish. It varies widely from country to country, and even it's original recipe from it's motherland looks little like the version Americans are used to eating. And if I ordered it at his restaurant, and that's what I got, I'd be pretty darned happy to be eating anything that Keller or his staff prepared.

              2. Bad Thomas! Bad Thomas! What you made sounds delicious, but it's not a stroganoff; nor is what he calls stroganoff. Stroganoff meat is quickly seared, never braised. But again, it's a delicious sounding dish.

                1. Did we already resolve the 'what is Stroganoff' issue in

                  There are links on that thread to the early 1861 recipe.

                  1. On the question of whether this is 'authentic' stroganoff, note:
                    - the recipe is from Kellers 'Ad Hock' cookbook

                    - http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/0...

                    Watch the video before complaining about Keller's use of the 'stroganoff' name:

                    - this is a reinterpretation of the American 1970s version, not the original Russian

                    "Beef stroganoff made with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup was a mainstay of the 1970s that I still feel some nostalgia for. This interpretation of that all-American version of stroganoff calls for braised beef short ribs with a mushroom cream sauce, enriched with crème fraîche. This is just as much about the mushrooms as it is the beef...."

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: paulj

                      Geez such hostility. Where is the outrage about tomato "carpaccio"? Or eggplant "napoleon"? Chef's are reinterpreting dishes all the time with different ingredients. Keller is known for that, as well as his tongue-in-cheek names. (Did you really expect a strand of Mikimotos with your "Oyster and Pearls"?) The AHAH text is very clear about the "reinterpretation" status of this recipe.

                      For me, this recipe and the recipes before and after it in AHAH, (Braised Beef Shortribs, and Catalan Beef stew), were a revelation. Keller teaches how braised beef can be used as a "staple" to create 3 amazing and diverse dishes. Depending how you finish them, you can end up with a basic short rib braise glazed with braising liquid reduction, beef "stroganoff", or a flavorful Catalan beef stew. Any discussion of this recipe should include this context, this recipe is certainly not presented as a classic "Beef Stroganoff" recipe in isolation in AHAH.

                      1. re: Chowstr

                        Thanks for the clarification! And to paulj too. I did not know about his comments about his take on the dish. His admission that it is not traditional, and is his take on the abominable 1970s Campbell's soup thing makes a lot of difference. Yet it sounds like such an elegant and long process through which to reach a perfectly delightful dish, I do wish he had called it something else, then made it known in notes with the recipe where he got his inspiration. But poor guy! Nostalgia for a 1970s Campbell's soup version of anything! A seriously deprived childhood, I suspect! '-)

                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Not everyone can have the exotic memories of a Russian princess in exile! :)

                    2. I think the essence of this discussion is that some folks are arguing that Keller's Ad Hoc recipe of Beef Stroganoff is not really a Beef Stroganoff because some of the methods are different. But in reality, there is no clear definition of what, exactly, Beef Stroganoff is. The Chowhound thread that one of the posters today linked to makes abundantly clear that the original Beef Stroganoff recipe didn't even contain onions or mushrooms, while later versions evolved to include tomato paste. Given this, how can anyone make the argument that Keller's Ad Hoc Beef Stroganoff is a bastardization of or otherwise not a Beef Stroganoff. I think it's because the TK version isn't like what folks think it should be like based on their own experiences. And that's quite a bit different from the reality of how Beef Stroganoff was originally concocted, how it's evolved through time, and how it's served around the world - sometimes quite a bit different than the American version of Beef Stroganoff, but no less deserving of the name.

                      In short, there's nothing magical about the American version of Beef Stroganoff that makes it the official version of that dish, where anything else that doesn't include mushrooms, onions, sour cream, and beef, and which isn't stir-fried, can't be called Beef Stroganoff.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: foreverhungry

                        So what are we to conclude from this - that anything made with beef, using any manner of preparation, including any combination of mushrooms, onions, cream (fresh, sour, or fraiche), mustard, tomatoes, carrots, and/or anything else the chef cares to throw in can legitimately be called Stroganoff?

                        I've encountered this out here before, this reductio ad absurdum of culinary nomenclature, and the only appropriate response is that classic bit of dialog from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass:

                        "There's glory for you!'
                        `I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.
                        Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
                        `But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
                        `When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'

                        1. re: BobB

                          I get what you're saying - and I think that was Caroline's point also. I completely agree that dishes need boundaries - in some cases narrow, in some cases wide. Case in point - today someone offered me a "muffin" which was really a cupcake. No matter how much I said that this thing looked and tasted like a cupcake, they said, no, the sign said muffin. It also drives me nuts to see "martini" lists at bars. Just because it's served in a martini glass doesn't make it a martini.

                          But in this case, the situation is more clouded. The original recipe for Beef Stroganoff - as near as most folks can tell, anyway - didn't even include mushrooms or onions, but did include mustard. What do we conclude from that? What do we conclude from early 1900 Russian recipes that include tomato paste? Are those not real Stroganoff recipes?

                          In some cases, questioning the nomenclature of a dish is very appropriate (is pizza really any kind of flat bread product with any variety of toppings and heated through in any way?). But in this case, I really can't see what about the TK Ad Hoc recipe takes it out of the Beef Stroganoff category. Because the beef is braised? Or is the essence of Beef Stroganoff that it's beef, some basic vegetables, served over a starch (in the US, pasta; in some parts of Europe, rice; in other areas, potatoes), and served in a creamy sauce. How you get there doesn't really matter much.

                          1. re: BobB

                            Almost none of Keller's recipes are made according to the traditional style. Quibbling about whether he names a dish after a traditional recipe seems to be missing the point. By a mile.

                            The question should be whether this dish evokes Stroganoff strongly enough for the diner to be delighted simultaneously comforted by the familiarity of it all while being delighted with the liberties he took and tweaks he made. No one orders a Keller dish or makes a Keller recipe expecting an un-modified traditional dish. There is no deception here.

                            "anything made with beef, using any manner of preparation, including any combination of mushrooms, onions, cream (fresh, sour, or fraiche), mustard, tomatoes, carrots, and/or anything else the chef cares to throw in can legitimately be called Stroganoff?"
                            Nope - it's about evoking the original (or not even necessarily the original, but whatever his diners would recognize as stroganoff). And I don't buy that you don't see how this evokes Stroganoff.

                            1. re: cowboyardee

                              I'd have to taste this version before judging whether it evokes Stroganoff - I was once served a "Stroganoff" made with stewed beef and the texture of the meat alone destroyed any chance of such evocation. And I'm not familiar enough with Keller's oeuvre to know that reinvention is his shtick - if that's really the case it does give the choice of name some legitimacy, I suppose.

                              But this is a bigger issue for me, a pet peeve if you will. I've been equally set off by "panna cotta" made without any cream, or "cassoulet" that's little more than chicken in a crockpot with beans. They may be delicious dishes in their own right, but calling them something they're not just serves to further degrade our already sadly abused language.

                          2. re: foreverhungry

                            Foreverhungy - I have appreciated your historical take on the different permutations of Stroganoff. It has been interesting.

                            I also feel that it's sort of beside the point in Keller's case. I mean that even if there was only ever one set-in-stone version of Stroganoff that everyone could agree on, Keller could still call this dish Stroganoff, because he is very obviously and deliberately playing off the expectations of his diners. His whole intent is to evoke stroganoff while presenting something different and new. Calling it stroganoff is an obvious and easy decision in that context. Given the intent of the dish, it would be silly, pedestrian, and obtuse to call it "Beef Keller" or some other such title.

                            He is using his artistic license and using it well.

                            1. re: foreverhungry

                              I've had a lot of fun watching this and have vacillated a bit between the representative camps. My Russian friends all insist that the ingredients are simple and without tomato. All the Stroganoffs (Stroganovskii?) that I have had in Russia were beef, onion, mushroom and sour cream...maybe dill, maybe lemon. A BUlgarian friend insists that the dish has tomato but, since Bulgaria grows all the tomatoes on the world (or it seems that way) it makes sense. In Latvia I was told that pork was OK. This may be heresy, but there you are. The Slavic pals told me that the one I grew up on, in Connecticut, was "wrong" but they liked it when I made it. It just was not "authentic" [See elsewhere on Chowhound for a raging debate on that issue]

                              The recipe from "Advice to Young Housewives" has never surfaced in my travels...I doubt an American in Moscow would be served that if ordering Stroganoff.

                              What intrigues me here is the desire for aa "bright line" and we learned in Law School that there are few Bright Lines (but we sure do want them!). I have looked at at many recipes, mostly here in Louisiana, trying to find the fundamental one...it is a delightful folly but it is possible (here) to get close to an original recipe. Crawfish etouffee is now often made with a roux..the original was not, for the simple reason that it was made quickly. And here, I think, is a chief objection to the Hon. Keller: his Stroganoff takes hours...the "standard"(if there is one) is fast. Keller's is a "fancy-fication" of a quick 'whip-it-up (but with Quality Stuff).

                              In Louisiana, our foods have French names but our remoulade is not as it was in PAris of old...nor is our andouille what Escoffier would have certified. But, as with Keller's idea, these are Kissin' Cousins.

                              I do have to say that the recipe post by the OP sounds great but it also sounds kinda like glorified grillades....I expect someone from any trade route (silk roud etc.) would upbraid me for stealing their Ancient National Recipe if I made grits n' grillades for them. (I wonder what would happen if sour cream were added to grillades? Worth thinking about...but would it still be grillades?)

                            2. Okay. I originally wrote this response several hours ago and was literally typing my last word when -- ZAP! -- a micro-power failure hit, just long enough to shut down my computer and lose every word I had written, but not long enough to require me to reset the clocks on the ovens. So this time I'm writing in a word processor and will save often as I write, then cut and past to chow. God bless north Texas and our frequent mini and maxi power outages! <sigh>

                              For the record, though I believe it is in the Chowhound records in other threads but worth repeating here, I learned to make beef Stroganoff in 1958. I was taught by an elderly Russian lady who had walked from Moscow to Istanbul with her husband to escape the carnage of the Bolshevik Revolution. Her name was Tensela, I don't know her surname, and she had been in the employ of a wealthy Turkish family since she arrived in that country. She was then living with our friend and his wife and she had been his governess/nanny when he was growing up, possibly his father's before him, and was then filling that role with their three year old daughter. Tensela was very bright and an incredible cook. First, let me share her AUTHENTIC recipe for Stroganoff, then I will share what she told me about the origins of the dish. I will adapt the recipe to American standards and kitchens.

                              ====================Tensela's Beef Stroganoff==============================

                              BEEF A pound of the best quality beef you can find but absolutely NOT tenderloin. In the U.S., I use a USDA Choice 7 bone roast, but you can also use steaks if you prefer. The thicker the cut the better. Cut the meat from the bone and remove any large pieces of fat. Put the meat in a zip lock bag in a single layer and set it in the freezer to harden but not freeze solid. Remove from freezer and with a very sharp knife cut it in thin strips ACROSS THE GRAIN. The strips should be about the size and thickness of 1/3 of a slice of bacon. Place meat in bowl and set aside.

                              ONIONS One large or two medium or three small onions. I use yellow onions. Red onions turn ugly when cooked so resist that temptation. Cut the root and stem ends off the onion(s), cut in half "top to bottom," lay them cut side down and slice across in 1/4 inch slices. Place in a bowl and keep ready.

                              MUSHROOMS Button mushrooms from the supermarket work just fine. I personally don't like shiitaki in this dish. Morels are terrific, but don't slice them; either use whole if small enough or tear them with your fingers. Porcine, chantrelles, or a mixture of mushrooms are good too. Slice the mushrooms cap to stem (except for morel, or course). An average button mushroom should be cut into four or five slices and other mushrooms cut into similar thickness slice. Place in bowl and set aside. At this point your should have three separate bowls containing meat, onions and mushrooms.

                              AT THE READY A cube or two of unsalted butter. A carton or two of sour cream.

                              CONDIMENTS AND SEASONINGS Salt, pepper if you like. Other possibilities are freshly grated nutmeg, a good French or European mustard, fresh or dried dill weed to taste, or even (shudder) a teaspoon of tomato paste. Minced parsley for garnish.

                              METHOD I use a large cast iron skillet, but any large skillet will do. I don't like non-stick for this dish, but that's a personal preference. Place the pan over medium-high heat, toss in a tablespoon or so of butter, when it has finished foaming but is not browning add the onions. Stir fairly often and cook until lightly caramelized and soft. Remove to the bowl they came from.

                              Add more butter to pan and add the mushrooms. There are two options for cooking them. Cook the mushrooms in small batches so you get some browning or cook them all at once and let them sweat their juices. In either case the juices end up in the final dish, it's just a matter of how much of it is still inside the mushrooms. When soft and tender, remove mushrooms (and any juices) to the same bowl the onions are in.

                              Add more butter to the pan and raise the heat just a bit. Saute beef in small batches tossing and turning regularly. The goal is to get the beef pink, not fully cooked because we want it to remain as tender as possible. DO NOT add salt to the beef while cooking as that will draw out moisture and toughen the beef. When the last batch of beef is pink, return beef and the mushrooms and onions to the pan, stir just enough to bring to heat and turn off the burner but leave the pan on it.

                              Stir in one or two cartons of sour cream. How much you use depends on how much sauce you want. Add at least one full carton, then proceed carefully from there. Stir to mix thoroughly and until the sour cream no longer has white streaks. It will turn a nice taupish beige. *IF* the sour cream cools the dish too much, then bring it to serving temperature on the burner over medium heat but be very careful not to let it heat long enough for the sour cream to curdle. It will still taste good if curdled, but it won't look good! Remove from heat. Season with salt to taste. All further ingredients are optional, but this is basic Stroganoff. Serve with noodles or bulgur or even rice, which is less traditional. In Russia, shoestring potatoes is a popular side dish. Yes! Crispy deep fat fried potatoes and noodles on the same dish! May be served family style or plated. Garnish Stroganoff with a light dusting of minced parsley.

                              And now back to Tensela, and what she told me about the origins of beef Stroganoff. She said it was a dish that had been common to the peasant class for centuries, prepared by cooks who had worked hard on farms or dairies all day. She learned to make it from her grandmother. It is a fast dish, with most of the time going into prepping, hence my comparison to wok cooking above. Tensela assured me it was common throughout the land, with variations coming from regional seasonings and the season of the year. When no mushrooms were available (fresh for the foraging or dried), then it was made without them, but preferably with. The dish developed in days before refrigeration and things like nutmeg (expenisive but effective) and mustard were used to disguise the "gaminess" of "over ripe" beef. In fact, nutmeg was used throughout Europe for this purpose until refrigeration freed it up for use in pies, cakes, and egg nog.

                              This is talked about in other places by other people, but Tensela told me that the dish took on the name "Stroganoff" when Count Pavel Stroganov's cook/chef began making it for him after he lost all of his teeth. It is a tender dish, and the Count was a lifelong devotee of fine food. The Count had it served to friends, and the rest is history. A quick, easy peasant dish took on elite associations.

                              If anyone is not sick to death of the subject and is still interested, here's a nice Stroganoff website, but I'm not fond of any of their recipes. but they do have some nice pictures. . http://www.beefstroganoff.net/history...

                              I believe Tensela's history because it makes sense. I hope some of you will try her recipe because it really is delicious! And my final word on Thomas Keller? The man could have at least called his dish, "Variations on a Theme of Count Stroganov." But poor man. All of that Campbell's soup stuff he ate back in the 70s obviously twisted his mind...! '-)

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Caroline1

                                The thing that makes me wonder about the peasant roots of this quick-and-tender version, is the availability of the tenderloin or equivalents cuts of beef. How often would a peasant family kill a cow, especially one that was supplying valuable milk?

                                1. re: paulj

                                  I gotta say, I wonder about this too. At least in the peasant French and Italian cooking I'm familiar with, most cuts of beef tend to be slow braised, because most of an old cow is pretty tough. And when someone does have a tender cut, such as the tenderloin, the last thing I think of is burying it in a cream sauce. Seems kinda pointless. If the dish was developed for the Stroganoff's, then tenderloin or equivalent availability might not have been much of an issue. But for the peasant class - in Russia and otherwise - I don't see folks using tender cuts of beef and quick-cooking them. More likely they'd have available tougher cuts of beef. Which would mean....braising? And then adding the braised beef to the dish?

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Oooops! You've missed something here. Tensela's recipe does NOT use tenderloin. There are not only no equivalent cuts and/or grades of beef currently available in the U.S. that are equal to what she used in Russia, or we used in Turkey, so as I said, I have adapted the recipe to U.S. standards. When I make it, I most often use a 7bone roast. Grades of meat and processing have changed so greatly in the last twenty to thirty years that it is difficult for me to find beef to my liking. I grew up with and lived much of my adult life with dry aged beef. Good luck on that one today/!

                                    Anyway, it was NOT a peasant dish that used tenderloin. It was not an everyday meal. When beef was available and the work day called for a quick meal, "Stroganoff" was an easy choice. But before refrigeration, there was always a problem keeping meat fresh, which is why things like nutmeg or mustard were used to help disguise the "ripeness" of the meat. "Stroganoff" was an economical dish to use up beef and soured cream. Onions and mushrooms were not so difficult to come by. Hope this clears thing up. Using tenderloin for Stroganoff is very much a '50s thing and not Russian in origin. But it does make good Stroganoff, Just not authentic, and really a bit too lean but far more forgiving of overcooking than the cheaper traditional cuts of beef.

                                    EDIT I missed replying to part of your speculations. No, briaisng is NOT necessary to make tougher cuts of meat tender. Keeping the thinly sliced beef RARE to MEDIUM RARE *AND* not salting it until after the dish is finished is the key to keeping cheaper cuts tender. Please read the recipe again. Thanks.

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      Didn't miss anything Caroline. I wasn't (and I don't think paulj was either) specifically to Tensela's recipe, but rather to many recipes that are the fairly standard mushroom/onion/sour cream version. Many of those DO call for using tenderloin.

                                      But tenderloin aside, what I wonder about is the seeming dichotomous issue of using cuts of beef that tend to be not the most tender (which would likely be much more available than tender cuts of beef), and the quick cooking method for the beef, which tends to favor the tender cuts. In short, quick cooking cheaper cuts of beef tends to lead to tough beef. So I could see Stroganoff being a special meal, using a cut of beef that was well suited to quick cooking - something like a tenderloin, but there are certainly other cuts that fit that bill very well.

                                      I think you bring up a really good point, though. I get stuck on this - why take a perfectly good tender cut of beef (which seemingly you'd need if you're going to quick cook it) and then cover it with a heavy sauce. Makes no sense to me - except for the fact that back in the day, the beef was probably not the freshest. So for the time, I could see that - take a suspect piece of meat and cover it with a rich sauce with some heavy flavoring.

                                      But doing that today? Maybe that's why I've never been gaga for Beef Stroganoff. Sure I like it, but I'd can't see spending the money on a good cut of beef, only to hide it under a cream sauce. But that's just me. Maybe that's why Keller's Ad Hoc recipe seems intriguing - take a cheap hunk of beef, braise the heck out of it, then use that in stroganoff. Given there's no longer a need to hide "ripe" beef under a veil of sauce, Keller's version seems to make a lot of fiscal sense.

                                      1. re: foreverhungry

                                        "I get stuck on this - why take a perfectly good tender cut of beef (which seemingly you'd need if you're going to quick cook it) and then cover it with a heavy sauce?"
                                        Filet mignon is the most readily sauced steak. The thing about tender cuts is they are often not the most flavorful cuts, and thus sauces are more than appropriate.

                                        1. re: cowboyardee

                                          Agreed 100%. Personally, I don't go near filet mignon exactly because it has little taste. I don't understand spending the money on it. But hey, to each their own.

                                          I won't go so far as to say that all tender cuts are not the most flavorful, but filet certainly fits that bill.

                                          So looked at it that way, 100 years ago, OK, you have a chunk of beef that has little flavor, except for "ripeness" which you want to mask, so quick cooking is OK, and bury it in a heavy sauce. Great. But why would anyone want to do that today? Just seems counter-intuitive to me. But maybe I'm missing something.

                                2. Jayspun, I commend you for taking on and successfully rendering such a complicated recipe. Kudos to you!

                                  Frankly, I don't give a damn if Thomas Keller were to prepare Buffalo Wings out of Pork Shanks and called it Chili...I still have nothing but respect for the man and his accomplishments and I would eat it with gusto while shaking my head a saying "Awesome Chili Thomas...just awesome!".

                                  Sorry that your thread was hijacked by such snobbish arguing. Who the hell cares about the terminology? I'm just here for the food!

                                  Thanks for the great post!


                                  14 Replies
                                  1. re: LiveRock

                                    I missed this one the first time around, thanks Little Rock for giving me the "discussion" to consider. A rose by any other name will still smell as sweet...or something like that.

                                    1. re: LiveRock

                                      When one grows up in a strong ethnic culture w/ out cookbook cooking and is very attached to a traditional food, it is a little upsetting seeing it altered so much and still called Stroganoff.
                                      It's not snobbery, it's cultural heritage.

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        But doesn't this version come from Keller's own ethnic culture? It's his take on a dish that his mother made. Or doesn't a mid-America circa 1950s count as a 'ethnic culture'?

                                        1. re: paulj

                                          Wheeeew, a tough one. When one is of 100% Russian heritage and 4 grandparents spoke little English, no. Is mid-America 1950's an ethnic food by definition or a cultural phenomena?
                                          I think it must be difficult for Americans of long time American roots to under stand to passion for which more recent ethnic groups hold for their foods. In a predjudiced society, it was only the only respite. To see it bastardized, is tough for some.

                                            1. re: paulj

                                              If it's OK w/ the Croats,,,,,Wait a minute, they are Roman Catholic, not Orthodox, I'll have to ask my Serbian cousins!

                                        2. re: Passadumkeg

                                          Imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery. Whenever a culture creates a dish that is really good, it gets sliced and diced in all sorts of ways....and beef stroganoff is one of them. Be glad your cultural heritage isn't based on Tuna Noodle Casserole ;)

                                        3. re: LiveRock

                                          Hey Randy, much love back at ya! My intention was to honor a great and creative chef; I did not expect such a vehement debate. While I am glad to have catalyzed an interesting exchange I do admit that I read it with a nagging, "chill out bro," in the back of my head. I'm glad you appreciated the post! Peace and take 'er easy :)

                                          1. re: jayspun

                                            When one messes w/ ones ethnic food heritage, one hears about it.
                                            Now, let me tell you about my cottage cheese lasagne recipe......

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              Do you use blue corn tortillas in your lasagne?

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                YES! And tomatillos instead of tomatoes.

                                            2. re: jayspun

                                              Agreed. Thanks for starting this thread (well, the cooking discussion part at least!)

                                              I've been going back and forth about whether or not to try the recipe since I got Ad Hoc about a month ago- was going to try it this weekend but had pretty much decided to simplify the short rib braise. But after reading your comments I'm going to follow through with the real deal.

                                              Question for you- did you braise the short ribs (or chuck in your case), a day early or did you prepare the whole thing, start to finish, in one day? I'm thinking it might be a work better with the straining and all if the braise rests for a day. Any thoughts?

                                              At least I've got my plans all made for the long weekend now...

                                              1. re: mjhals

                                                Splitting a braise like this over two days (nearly) always works well.

                                                1. re: mjhals

                                                  Sorry to respond nearly a year later... hope you weren't waiting for my reply :P I split it up into 2 days and glad I did so since it's such a labor intensive recipe. How did it go for you?

                                            3. Looks like a wonderful dish. I'm baffled by the brouhaha on the naming of this dish by Keller. He does the same thing on lots of his dishes. If he can call Sauteed Cod with Cod Cakes and Parsley Oil "Clam Chowde," Braised Short Ribs with Root Vegetables and bone marrow "Pot-au-
                                              Feu," and cheese custard with Romaine, Anchovy Dressing and Parmesan Crisps "Caesar Salad," I don't see what the big deal is for "Stroganoff." Let me eat dinner at his place and I don't care if you call it "Crepe Suzettes" and serve me waffles--I'm sure it will be wonderful.

                                              1. No matter how you slice it, this is one darned wonderful recipe. Well worth making, that is for certain.