Saturday, November 3, 2012

Bœuf (Beef) Stroganoff on your French Menu?

from
Behind the French Menu
by
Bryan Newman


            
         Boeuf Stroganoff                 
Photograph by courtesy of  Foodicted.

                           
French menus may offer Bœuf Stroganoff, Bœuf Stroganov  or Filet de Bœuf Façon Stroganov.
          English language menus may offer:   
     Beef Stroganoff or Beef Stroganov.
   
   Despite this dish’s Russian name when prepared in France the recipe is clearly French. Thin slices of beef are cut from the fillet and accompanied by fried onions and mushrooms prepared in butter and covered with a white wine, paprika and lightly flavored mustard, crème fraiche sauce.  The dish will be served with rice or thin dumplings on the side.
                           
   From the late 18th century, until the Russian revolution, all Russian aristocrats from the Czar on down, employed a French chef. One look at the ingredients in the dish noted above and you realize that this is very much a French recipe; however, the chef who created this dish did not leave his signature. The arguments over the origins of this dish point to Russian recipes that are very different.
                   
   A very knowledgeable French Maitre D’  advised me that this dish was named for a famous Russian diplomat, Count Pavel Stroganoff, in 1890. Later, when I checked up on Count Pavel Stroganoff,  I discovered that this famous member of the Stroganoff family died in 1817; that would be long before the dish was created.
                

            


The Stroganoff Palace in St Petersburg, Russia.

              

Photograph by courtesy of Keelyip.
            
   Even more important, by the 1870’s, there were no male Stroganoffs, outside of the royal family, left to carry on the name.  Now, which French chef might have created the dish, and for which royal member of the Stroganoff family is it named? We have no idea.
                              
  Today’s French chefs use crème fraiche while modern Russian recipes indicate the use of sour cream. Even today, sour cream is not available in every French supermarket, just as crème fraiche is rarely seen in Russia. French chef’s working in Russia one hundred and fifty years ago would have used sour cream, and when they returned home the traditional crème fraiche would have been used. For more information on France’s unique crème fraiche see the post: Crème Fraîche.What is Crème Fraîche?
 
Bryan G. Newman
 
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014
  
For information on the unpublished book behind this menu contact Bryan Newman
at
behindthefrenchmenu@gmail.com