• Karine Wlasichuk

Not your Mother's Stroganoff (unless you're Ella, kanyeshna)

Updated: Jan 4, 2020

A fun fact to start: Конечно, kanyeshna, is one of the first words I learned when studying Russian to work in Eastern Ukraine- ah I know, this sounds pretty contradictory, but the more you drive towards the East, the more Russian-speaking it becomes (or a hybrid of both which is really fun to try to decipher...ahem, bliss). Nonetheless, I figured it was the perfect word to learn straight away, as I love saying yes to all food and drinks. I actually hate mixed drinks and shots but you understand the concept here. Instead of always saying 'da' you could say, 'da kanyeshna spasiba!!!' so yes, certainly thank you! It's just sweeter!?

Did I even say it? Kanyeshna means 'of course' or 'certainly'. Bravo Karine, a paragraph later.

'I never cared for Stroganoff' 'She said that like a Romanov'

Now, let's get into Beef Stroganoff and why I will never get sick of serving it. I have tried cooking it many ways, with carrots and beef cubes or strips, very creamy on egg noodles, runnier on a potato mash, and today, in the form of ground beef on Penne Rigate! I swear, this meal melts in your mouth - quite honestly, dangerously well, you can be 2 bowls down before realising it- and I would pretty much recommend it to anyone I've ever met (you can even make it vegetarian by using more mushrooms in order to substitute the meat or even use these great no-meat 'ground beef' soy packs which I have often tried to fool Rene with!- no success so far, will most definitely keep you updated).

No surprise here (especially with such a subtle and intricate Russian class introduction!), this meal originated in Russia in the mid-19th century, starring sautéed mushrooms and smetana (sour cream- which Ukrainians also live off of by the way, I'd say 60% of meals? Who am I kidding, 80%). I know the countries have been at war and going through many political conflicts (and back-to-back occupations which never end- I worked during some of them, I can tell you it's no joke), but I cannot deny them the greatness of this meal. Is this how world peace begins?

You will need,

Penne Rigate (1 pack)

Parlsey (1/3 bunch)

Mushrooms (any of your choice, I have tried many different types and was happy each time, 1 pack from the market)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Sour cream (1/3 cup)

Chardonnay or Chenin Blanc (1/3 cup)

Mustard (1 tbsp)

Butter (around 100 g, I used herb and garlic butter!)

Garlic (4 cloves- not typical but I add garlic in everything so!?)

Flour (4 tbsp)

Scallions (4)

Beef broth (1 1/2 cups)

Ground beef (and that is the twist, today we are not using regular cuts: I also never use the same amount, so a regular pack from the store will do)

*And, of course, I always prepare a Ziploc container for Rene's lunch (I prepare it as soon as I serve dinner so we don't eat it, it's just really responsible of me and shows just how organised I am, truly). I don't toot my own horns a lot, but in the kitchen I allow myself a touch of cockiness - except for baking, I am a horrid, terribly inexperienced baker.

A few simple steps,

1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter and add ground beef with garlic- season with salt and pepper, and toss until the beef is browned

2. Add scallions and stir for about 5 minutes

3. Once you start noticing juice when you move the meat aside, toss everything on one side of your pot and stir in the flour, mixing with the juice until it is creamy

4. Add the beef broth and bring to a boil

5. Lower the heat and stir in mustard

6. Cover and let simmer for 30-40 minutes (it is typically 1 hour, but our beef cut is different, ground meat cooks fast thus about 40 minutes allows it to become perfectly flavourful)

7. Keep adding salt and pepper as you go, I personally cannot fathom a creamy meal and not drown it in black pepper, but to each their own

8.About 5 minutes before your serve, add in the Chardonnay and the sour cream- stir and sprinkle with fresh parsley

An remember, you don't have to agree with every political aspect of a country to love their food- ingredients know no state lines or hatred, they're just delicious.