Pasta with a Russian twist
Today I am going to break with tradition and share a recipe that involves pasta but does not originate my from beloved Italy! I’m referring to the classic comfort dish of beef stroganoff and while I realise it’s a big departure from my usual Italian recipes, after having it for the first time in a long time the other night, I felt compelled to share this old school Russian dish because it was so delish!
The segue from my Italian food offerings to this dish is that I always serve it with buttered fusilli pasta – the perfect foil for the meat and creamy gravy. In fact, high quality pasta can be a great accompaniment instead of potatoes, polenta or couscous with a range of dishes, especially if there is a tasty sauce involved. Beef stroganoff for example, is simple but rewarding recipe that ticks every comfort food box you can think of and its creamy sauce clings to spiral pasta perfectly. I know some people serve beef stroganoff with rice, and those little white pillows are great for absorbing sauces too but to my mind – and more importantly my taste buds – silky buttered pasta, speckled with crunchy little poppy seeds make this simple dish sing.
My beef stroganoff recipe is a simple but flexible one you can tweak to suit your tastes and that’s why I’ve listed some optional extras below. Sour cream is the traditional ingredient used in Russia for example but loads of Aussies have switched to regular cream when making this dish. If you do use the latter however, a squeeze of lemon adds a nice twang of sharpness to an otherwise creamy balance of flavours. As for booze, brandy is best but I have even used a splosh of wine when I’ve got nothing else on hand and it’s still super tasty I assure you!
The real key with this beef stroganoff recipe is to keep an eye on the cooking time and have everything ready to go so you can enjoy your pasta al dente and you beef tender aka not broiled to death!
Beef stroganoff recipe
Ingredients – Serves 4
- 500g rump steak, fillet steak or beef chuck – trim off excess flat and cut into thin strips
- 1 large onion – chopped
- 1 garlic clove – chopped
- 2 tsp. paprika
- 200g approx. mushrooms – sliced
- 1/3 cup brandy or cognac
- 60-70ml sour cream or cream
- Olive oil
- Parsley – chopped
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Squeeze of lemon juice – optional
- ½ tsp. nutmeg – optional
- Thyme – chopped – optional
- 400g fusilli (spiral) pasta
- Poppy seeds
- Put a pot of boiling salted water on for the pasta.
- Melt a knob of butter into some olive oil in pan and brown meat on all sides before removing to a pan.
- Now put the pasta on to cook – check instructions on the packet and put on the timer – but it should be around 9-10 minutes. Strain over a colander when al dente – you want this to be the same time the stew is ready.
- Add a little more butter to the beef pan and gently fry the onions until they become soft and translucent and then add mushrooms. Do not add any more butter or oil and let the water come out of the mushroom, stirring all the while and then allow them to brown.
- You can add a little more butter now and add the garlic. Fry for a minute or two then add the pre-browned meat, paprika, nutmeg and thyme is using and the brandy. Stir to combine and allow the alcohol to burn off – this should take around a minute or two.
- Reduce heat to very low and stir in the sour cream, lemon, parsley and a seasoning of salt and pepper. Taste to make sure your seasoning is balanced and you need to keep the heat very low or the sour cream may split.