Pork or Beef. What is this—a Teriyaki joint?
|Pavel, you da man.|
"Count Pavel Stroganov, a celebrity in turn-of-the-century St. Petersburg, was a noted gourmet as well as a friend of Alexander III. He is frequently credited with creating Beef Stroganoff or having a chef who did so, but in fact a recipe by that name appears in a cookbook published in 1871, well ahead of the heyday of the genial count. In all probability the dish had been in the family for some years and came to more general notice throughout Pavel's love of entertaining."
--Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, Patricia Bunning Stevens [Ohio University Press: Athens] 1998 (p.103).
I can find no reliable documentation on any of the above, and even the particular Count Stroganoff in question is up for interpretation. The more I dug, the murkier the whole affair became. Alexander III dates 1845-1894. Old Pavel at left lived from 1772-1817, so apparently Patricia Bunning Stevens has some explaining to do. Perhaps she doesn't know how to count her "turn-of-the-century" dates. 18th century refers to the 1700s, Patricia.
Another problem, no other source than Larousse Gastronomique notes that several similar dishes were being prepared since the 1700s, and versions are common in nearly all Baltic countries. Stroganoff is essentially a meat, mushrooms and sour cream concoction. The flavourings vary by locality.
I care not a whit for potentially unreliable publications, or persons unable to ever have met due to the misfortune of not living at the same time. But I do care about food, and Stroganoff is food, so here's my entry into the canon. I have just made this for dinner, and as of typing time, I haven't fell ill. Yet...
1 lb boneless pork loin, cut into wide strips 1/4 inch thick (You could use beef if you must…)
2 onions, halved and quartered
1 lb Portobello mushrooms, sliced thickly
3 tbsp oil
1/3 cup vermouth
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp cardamom, ground
1 tsp thyme, dried
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
1 cup balkan style (thick) plain yogurt
2 tbsp lemon juice
Combine the paprika, cardamom, thyme, cayenne, salt and pepper and set aside. Sauté the strips of pork in a wide saucepan using 2 tbsp of the oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the spice mixture and sauté until just cooked through. Remove pork from the pan.
Add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to the saucepan. Sauté the onions until they begin to soften. Then add the mushrooms and continue to cook. Add more oil if necessary. When they onions and mushrooms come back to heat and fry for a little while, add the vermouth. Cook until onions are softened, the vermouth has evaporated, and the mushrooms have reduced in size and darkened considerably.
Sprinkle the mushrooms with the remaining spice mixture. Add the yogurt and mustard and stir. Add the pork and bring back to heat. Taste and adjust seasonings.
Just before serving squeeze the lemon juice into the pan and mix.
Serve over wide egg noodles.