You know that Beef Stroganoff is a dish somehow related to Russia. But what is the exact connection and history?
While you can find many recipes on internet, including my favourite on Tania Zouev’s blog (see link below) , my interest is to learn its history.
Beef Stroganoff is a typical dish invented and has no national roots. It was named in honour of Count Alexander Grigorievich Stroganoff.
The name of the dish is said to have originated in the kitchens of the Stroganoff family around the mid 18th century. While according to a recognized researcher on history of cooking V. Pokhlebkin, the dish did not appear until the second half of the 90s of the 19th century (1890s).
The name of the dish is probably the only thing known for certain. The rest of its history is made up of conflicting legends, stories and speculation. Choose your favourite.
- The author of beef stroganoff was a French chef André Dupont, who was invited by Count Alexander Grigorievich Stroganoff to Odessa, and who invented a dish for the convenience of the Count, who in his old age lost his teeth and could not chew hard, large chunks.
Back in 18th century the upper classes of Imperial Russia loved everything French, thanks to Peter the Great and Catherine II, and considered everything Le Francaise to be the epitome of class and style. In early 1800s the Russian nobility still preferred French to Russian for everyday use. Many of them never learned or spoke Russian. Travel to France was considered a form of cultural and intellectual apprenticeship. Russian cooks and chefs of the time were encouraged to cook in a French manner and many of them were shipped off to France to study cookery by their employers.
- The dish was prepared in Stroganoff family for ages and is based on the ancient Russian dish of sliced meat.
- Beef Stroganoff was invented personally by Count A.G. Stroganoff.
- Beef Stroganoff was prepared for “public dinners”, which were given by Count A.G. Stroganoff in Odessa, and where any decent-looking city dweller could come. Count Stroganoff, being a very wealthy man, held the so-called “open tables” in Odessa. Dish was more likely invented for such open tables. Firstly, it was easy to prepare and gave the ability to have a consistent food standard. Secondly, it was easy to divide into portions.
Count Alexander Grigorievich Stroganoff (1795-1891) was born in the family of Count Grigory Stroganoff (1770-1857) from his marriage to Anna Sergeyevna Troubetzkaya (1765-1824). Even so his education started in the Corps of Engineers of Railways, many years were spent at wars (battles at Dresden, Kulm, Leipzig, the occupation of Paris in 1831, the suppression of the Polish uprising).
In 1834 Stroganoff was appointed Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs and continued the rest of his life as a government employee as a member of the State Council, a military Governor of St. Petersburg, Novorossiysk and Bessarabian Governor-General. In 1862 he became the first (until 1893 was the only one), an honourable citizen of Odessa.
When he lived in Odessa Count Stroganoff was interested in the activities of the local Society of History and Antiquities of Russia (was its president) and has done a lot of donations to the museum. His personal library was bequeathed to the Novorossiysk University in Odessa.
But does it really matter who and how it was invented? Beef Stroganoff dish has received the widest recognition in the world. After the Second World War the dish is being served in the range of international restaurant kitchens as a “Russian dish,” despite the fact that it is not the national Russian dish. It is also a favourite of home cooks. And we love it.