The history of beef stroganoff:
The commonly accepted history of Beef Stroganoff is that a French chef who worked for a wealthy St. Petersburg family created the dish for a cooking contest in 1891. Following the Russian custom of the day, he named the prize-winning dish for his employer, Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov. A convincing detail sometimes offered is that the thin slices of meat called for were to accommodate the elderly Count’s failing teeth.
It’s amazing what even a little research can do. Five minutes of fact checking led me to conclude that Pavel Alexandrovich would indeed have been old in 1891 – 117 years old, to be exact. And since he’d been killed in battle 74 earlier, the popularly accepted and much pasted and copied version of the story cannot be true. Yet this part is accurate: in 1891, a French chef named Charles Briere did indeed win a St. Petersburg cooking contest with a dish he called Beef Stroganov.
2 to 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast, chopped into 2-inch chunks
1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used light olive oil)
generous salt and pepper
4 tablespoons butter (half stick)
1 onion, chopped
8 to 12 ounces mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or more to taste)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tablespoon garlic, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons Better Than Bo
uillon Beef Base
1 to 2 cups sour cream, to add after cooking
12-16 ounces pappardelle pasta, plus water and salt
fresh parsley, to garnish
fresh chives, to garnish
Use a sharp serrated knife to cut the chuck roast into 2-inch chunks. Separate all the pieces out onto a work surface (I had mine on a cutting board) and dry them all over with paper towels.
Salt and pepper the pieces. Be generous. I used at least 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt.
Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot, add 1 tablespoon oil and swirl to coat.
Carefully place about 1/3 of the pieces of beef into the pan, one by one. Leave at least an inch or two of space in between. If you put them too close together (or just dump the meat in all at once), your meat will start to steam itself, and no browning will occur. (You may as well just skip the entire browning process altogether and dump the raw meat straight into the crockpot.)
Let the meat sear for about 1-2 minutes, then use tongs to flip each piece. When you see nice brown edges on both sides, transfer the meat to your slow cooker.
Continue searing the rest of the beef in one or two more batches, depending on space. Add more oil as necessary, and reduce the heat to medium if your pan starts to smoke. Remove all the meat to the slow cooker, but don’t clean out that pan. We need all those gorgeous brown bits.
Turn the heat off if you need to take a moment to chop your onion and slice your mushrooms if you haven’t already.
Melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat in the pan you seared the meat in. When it’s melted, add the chopped onion and quartered mushrooms. Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 2 teaspoons paprika, and 1 tablespoon dried parsley. Saute for 5-8 minutes, until onions and mushrooms are soft.
Add 1 tablespoon smashed and minced garlic. Saute for 1 minute until fragrant. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. I love to use these refrigerated tubes of tomato paste, so I don’t have to throw away the rest of a 6-oz can.
Add 1/2 cup red wine (I used cooking wine) and 1/2 cup water. Add 2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Beef Base.* Let the mixture come to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to a simmer and let cook for another 5-7 minutes until it has reduced a bit.
Transfer the mixture to the slow cooker, adding in every last drop. Stir it together with the beef.
Cover and cook on low for 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.
Fill a large pot with water and about a tablespoon of salt (it should taste like seawater.) Bring the water to a boil and add the pappardelle pasta. Stir constantly to make sure the noodles don’t stick. Cook according to package instructions, usually about 3 minutes. Boil until al dente, don’t overcook.
Drain and add olive oil, stirring to coat.
Add some pasta to a serving plate.** Top with beef stroganoff. The chunks of beef may be big, but it so forks tender your guests can take care of it themselves at the table.
Add a big dollop of sour cream to each plate. Top with fresh parsley and fresh chives.