Recently I’ve been thinking about family recipes and how they get passed from person to person. It was sparked by a story I heard about a girl who’s friends put together a scrap book of all their family recipes as a wedding gift, how sweet is that?! Certainly beats a set of towels in my book.
I was taught to cook by my Mam. She is (and I can’t stress this strongly enough) an absolutely cracking cook. Everything the woman makes is super delicious. But she’s not very adventurous, so after she taught me the staples (bolognese, chocolate cake, Irish stew, seafood, etc.), I went on to do a lot of discovering and recipe testing all by myself. At the same time, I’d love to pick her brains and write down all of her recipes for safekeeping. Adventurous they may not be, but they formed a very important part of my childhood. Even just the thoughts of her Christmas baked ham brings me to my happy place, mmmmmm…
My aunt is also a wonderful cook, but I fear she’s quite like me and makes up recipes as she goes along, thereby making it slightly difficult to write them down or pass them on. Her stroganoff is legendary; it’s absolutely out-of-this-world delicious! When I was a kid, I loved it so much that whenever she made it, she’d always make an extra plate for me. I have been begging her for the recipe for years now with no luck, although I’m starting to suspect she doesn’t have a clear idea of it herself!
So here is my attempt to recreate my aunt’s stroganoff, but obviously this is subject to change, depending on what we have in the fridge on a given day!
Auntie V’s beef stroganoff (well, almost)
600 g beef fillet or tenderloin or any decent cut, chopped into thin strips
1 tbsp olive oil
1 knob of butter
1 large brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
350 g mushrooms, sliced
3 tbsp brandy
300 ml soured cream
½ tsp smoked paprika
Salt and fresh black pepper
Rice or pasta or potatoes to serve
First off, brown the beef with a splash of olive oil in a hot pan until just cooked and set aside. The time it takes for the beef to cook depends on how thin you’ve sliced it. I slice mine fairly thin, so I brown it at the start and then set aside until just before I’m about to serve; when I pop it back into the sauce to cook for a further minute. I find this is the best way to avoid the meat getting tough, stringy and overcooked. But of course, all this depends on the cut you use and how large you want your pieces of meat to be. You may need to experiment to see what you like best.
Once the meat is done, I start on the sauce. Melt a knob of butter in a pan and use this to really gently sweat the onion and garlic on a low heat until they the onions are clear. Then add in the mushrooms and allow to cook for about 4-5 minutes. At this point I generally add in the brandy too so it gets a chance to reduce down. Once the mushrooms are done, add in the soured cream and return the meat to the pan. Turn up the heat slightly and let the sauce cook and thicken for a further minute before seasoning with smoked paprika and a good shake of salt and fresh black pepper.
Serve with spuds, rice, noodles or pasta, or anything else that takes your fancy. In my family we’ve always eaten stroganoff with rice and I can’t imagine having it with anything else. If your family have any other variations of this, I’d love to hear about them.
This is such a great dish, it’s oh so very tasty and is seriously posh to boot! This one will always be a winner with me.