The origin and history of Beef Stroganoff dates backs to 19th century.
Although not a new recipe, at that time but a refined version of an
even older Russian recipe, it had probably been in the family of Count
Pavel Stroganoff's for some years and had become well known through
his love of entertaining. Count Pavel Stroganoff was a celebrity, a
dignitary at the court of Alexander III, a member of the Imperial
Academy of Arts, and a known gourmet. Given Beef Starngoff's history,
it is doubtful that Beef Stroganoff was his or his chef's invention
since the recipe was included in the 1871 edition of the Molokhovets
cookbook, which clearly pre-dates his fame as a gourmet.
Going through the history we find that Beef Stroganoff had won the
first prize award in a competition, 'L'Art Culinaire' in 1891 where
it was presented by Charles Briére, an employee of the rich and
powerful Stroganoff family. This original recipe had beef, mushrooms
and sour cream, just like today's version. Legend has it that his
patron Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganoff had lost all his teeth and
his chef had especially prepared this recipe to overcome the Count's
Although considered a dish of the 50s era, Beef Stroganoff began
appearing in American cookbooks at least two decades earlier. The
first recipe can be found in John MacPherson's Mystery Chef's Own Cook
Book(1934). Two Stroganoffs' appear in Dinaa Ashley's Where to dine in
'39, a guide to New York City restaurants published in 1939, one from
the defunct Russian Kretchma and the second from the Russian Tea Room.
Both recipes were rather Americanized in their preparation as both
contain Worcestershire sauce, both are made with sweet cream rather
than sour and finally both contain mushrooms, which according to
Russians is not authentic. As a matter of fact, they do not appear in
Alexander Kropotkin's recipe in The Best of Russian Cooking(1964).
Beef Stroganoff - with mushrooms and sour cream also shows up in 1943
edition of The Joy of Cooking. Unfortunately, for America, it was then
immersed in World War II and red meat was strictly rationed at that
time. So very few cooks could afford the luxury of Beef Stroganoff.
After the war was over, Beef Stroganoff became the signature dish of
'gourmet' cooks across the country.