How The French Influenced The Creation Of Beef Stroganoff

beef stroganoff
beef stroganoff - from my point of view/Shutterstock

The recipe for beef Stroganoff has traveled through centuries and continents for a reason. The sour cream-laced sauce doesn't need any careful crafting, uses only a handful of common ingredients, and turns some beef into a memorable meal that isn't hard to master as long as you follow our tips. Beef Stroganoff had its American heydey in the mid-century "Mad Men" days, but you don't need a silver chafing dish or smoking jacket to know that this is a classic. Sadly, many people have only had convenience versions of the dish made with freeze-dried sliced potatoes from a grocery store box or simmered with a can of starchy mushroom soup. It would be a shame not to experience the true recipe with its elegant French roots and no cans or boxes involved.

The venerable recipe most likely originated with late 18th-century Russian nobility, who loved to spend social seasons in Paris, although some historians say the dish could be even older. What we do know is that the French-influenced braised beef dish departs from tradition by using a uniquely Russian ingredient of that day: sour cream (which can be made out of old heavy cream). A clever chef (possibly the personal chef of Pavel Stroganoff) decided to name the creation after the noble Stroganoff family -- a rich and noble meal for a rich and noble family. Today, the Stroganoff family palace is open for visitors in St. Petersburg, Russia, and many nearby restaurants serve tourists versions of the dish.

Read more: Tips You Need When Cooking With Ground Beef

This Dish Outlasted Dynasties

Brazilian beef stroganoff
Brazilian beef stroganoff - bnetto/Shutterstock

Russian and French cookbooks published the recipe for beef Stroganoff as early as the late 1800s, and the dish spread around the world with Russian immigrants. Beef Stroganoff traveled to Brazil with Russians who were escaping the chaos of the 1917 revolution. The dish became so beloved there that some Brazilians claim it as their own today and serve it with shoestring potatoes on top, sometimes swapping the beef for other protein. Japan also has its own version of the creamy beef dish that includes soy sauce and local mushrooms served with rice.

Beef Stroganoff became popular in China in the years before World War II due to political ties with Russia, and that may be where Americans became enamored of the dish before bringing it back to the U.S. after the war and making it an icon of the era. The dish is thrifty, turning a small amount of beef into a satisfying dinner, which fits nicely into wartime rationing habits. Convenience food development also peaked during the 1950s and 1960s, so converting the delicious recipe into a quick-to-serve box of Hamburger Helper or canned soup recipe was inevitable. For some Americans, the ground beef version was the first and only exposure to the once elegant dinner of the Russian aristocracy, but no matter — the lasting legacy of Count Stroganoff's chef has shown that a delicious recipe can conquer the world.

Read the original article on Tasting Table