We had a quiet Christmas, just the two of us, so a turkey or a goose seemed a bit over the top. We’d had duck just a few days before, so I decided a break with tradition was called for. I decided on mini beef Wellingtons; leaving shopping till Christmas Eve meant I couln’t get any fillet, so I bought two slices of faux-filet (I think this is sirloin in English) instead. The beef was excellent, the pastry a rather soggy disappointment.
But looking on the bright side, the slices were so large that I cut out just the centres for the Wellingtons and was left with about 100 g of trimmings. An ideal opportunity to dust off an old 1970s favourite the next day: beef Stroganoff. It was well worth reviving; so quick to make, and absolutely delicious. Not only that, but I got to use the beautiful adjustable Peugeot peppermill I got for Christmas.
You must use really good beef for this, but you don’t need very much. I can’t imagine serving it with anything other than plain white rice, but it would make a good sauce for pasta too. Some people add all sorts of other things: brandy, Marsala, tomato puree, nutmeg… But try it this classic way first — sometimes simple is best.
30-40 g butter
100-150 g frying steak
1 medium onion or 2 shallots
100 g of mushrooms
4 tbs creme fraiche
Slice the steak across the grain into thin strips. Finely chop the onion or shallots and clean and slice the mushrooms. Melt about half the butter in a heavy frying pan and gently saute the onions till soft and translucent. Raise the heat, add the mushrooms, and cook for a few more minutes until the mushrooms are just tender. Remove everything to a plate.
Add the remaining butter to the pan, heat until froth subsides, then saute the strips of steak over a high heat for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on how well cooked you like it (less is better in my opinion). Reduce the heat, return the mushrooms and onions to the pan, and add the cream. Grind in plenty of coarse black pepper (if your pepper mill doesn’t do coarse, crush the peppercorns in a mortar). Heat through and serve immediately with rice and a good red wine. For true 70s presentation, you should make a circle on the plate with the rice, and put the stroganoff in the middle.