Beef stroganoff is a hearty and filling dish we often associate with Eastern Europe, especially Russia. Browned beef is stewed in a mustard sauce and served with sour cream and egg noodles for a quintessential wintertime dish. A version of beef stroganoff, or estrogonofe de carne, is quite popular in Brazil. This is not surprising, considering over 2 million Brazilians claim Russian heritage! Brazilian stroganoff is quite similar to the traditional Russian version, but with a few twists to suit local tastes.
History of Stroganoff
The first recipe for beef stroganoff (stroganov in Russian) can be found in the cookbook, A Gift to Young Wives. Written by Elena Molokhovhets, the tome was published in 1871 and was wildly popular among housewives. The first edition contained a recipe for “Beef a la Stroganov, with mustard.”
“Stroganov” was derived from one of Russia’s most successful merchant families of the same name. They established themselves as early as the 16th century and developed lucrative connections to virtually every facet of Russian business, from banking to politics. They might be likened to the prominent Medici family of Italy.
The reason for naming the dish after the Stroganovs is not immediately clear. However, we might hypothesize that Ms. Molokhovets hoped to convey the richness of the dish by naming it after the wealthiest family in the country.
Brazilian Beef Stroganoff vs Russian Stroganoff
The original recipe for Beef a la Stroganov was made with beef and a basic roux sauce with broth, mustard, and sour cream. Many variations incorporate mushrooms, garlic, and onion, but these additions are generally attributed to French chefs who obtained the recipe while traveling in St. Petersburg.
Brazilian beef stroganoff is similar, but it replaces the mustard with tomato paste, ketchup, and worcestershire sauce. The tomato paste gives the dish a signature light orange hue. Brazilian stroganoff also uses heavy cream in place of sour cream and includes onions, garlic, and mushrooms.
The traditional accompaniment to Russian stroganoff is a side of crispy potato sticks (a favorite topping in Brazil as well). Brazilians serve their stroganoff in the same manner, or with a side of fluffy white rice (or both!).
Variations of Brazilian Stroganoff Stew
The protein you use can be changed depending on personal preference or dietary requirements. If you are vegetarian, you can omit the meat entirely and add more mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, and other vegetables for a hearty veggie stew. Brazilians like to sub in chicken or prawns as well.
Brazilian Estrogonofe Without Heavy Cream
Generally speaking, stroganoff is a dish that is meant to “stick to your ribs.” However, if you want to reduce the fat and calorie content of this dish, you can omit the heavy cream and make a traditional roux instead. For every four cups of liquid, use 4 oz of roux.
To make a simple roux, use a 2:1 ratio of melted flour to melted fat or oil. For example, melt 2 oz of butter and mix in 4 oz of flour. Let it cook for at least 30 seconds, then whisk in your liquid.
Brazilian Beef Stroganoff Recipe (Estroganofe de Carne)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or unsalted butter
2 lbs lean, high grade beef, such as tenderloin or ribeye (cut into 1 inch cubes)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 cups sliced white mushrooms
⅔ cup tomato paste
½ cup water
2 tbsp ketchup
2.5 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2.5 cups heavy cream
2 tsp salt (more to taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
- Let your cubed beef come to room temperature while you preheat a skillet over medium high heat.
- Melt the butter or drizzle oil into the preheated pan.
- Sear the beef on each side until a nice crust forms (just a few seconds each side).
- Remove the beef and set aside. Lower the heat in the pan to medium-low.
- Add in the onions and sauté until softened.
- Add in the white mushrooms and cook until they are softened with golden edges.
- Now add in the garlic and cook for about thirty seconds until fragrant.
- Return the beef to the pan, along with the salt, pepper, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, and ½ cup of water.
- When the mixture is evenly incorporated, add in the heavy cream and simmer until piping hot.
Serve over a bed of fresh white rice and top with batata palha. Enjoy!