Restaurants Pirogi Vino i Gus and Russian Pub, which I just reviewed, both feature “Stroganoff Pie” on their menus. In a sense, the combination is to be expected: pies and classic Russian cuisine are both trending in Moscow, and as such, they’re no longer confined, respectively, to fast food joints and homey cafés. By serving beef Stroganoff under pie crust, gastrocafés are revisiting two classics in one dish. Now’s my turn to follow suit!
About six years ago, I posted a recipe for a fondue Stroganoff, taking the opportunity to recount the story of beef Stroganoff and its ever-changing key ingredients, but then offering a very different interpretation all my own. The version I’m preparing here today, however, is more classic: the sauce is made with a roux, beef stock, mustard, sour cream, onions, and mushrooms – like in the original 19th century recipe by Elena Molokhovets, save for the mushrooms.
Plus: soy sauce and black garlic! I suppose your Russian grandmother didn’t use either of those. In addition to boosting the umami taste from the oxtail and the mushrooms, they add a bit of complexity to the sauce, especially thanks to the black garlic’s notes of balsamic vinegar. And did I mention the star anise? Because, as Heston Blumenthal explains, combining star anise with lightly caramelized onions helps intensify the meatiness of the dish.
Oh, and I’ve added black truffle too. As I started working on this recipe at the tail end of black winter truffle season, I succumbed to temptation and decided to add some of the precious fungus to my pie. Feel free to omit it, but please, please, do not replace it with truffle oil or anything other than genuine tuber melanosporum!
For the rest, my pie is inspired by the one I ate at Russian Pub, with its successive layers of purée, beef Stroganoff, and pie crust. Like theirs, my base is a beef stew (mine is made with oxtail) rather than the more classic sautéed filet mignon strips – baked in a pie, the tenderloin would be cooked well done, which would really be a waste. I replaced Russian Pub’s potato purée with a cauliflower purée, because potato tends to absorb the flavors of the ingredients it’s mixed with, while I find that cauliflower complements black truffle very well. Lastly, my pie dough is the same as the one I used in my chicken kurnik many years ago, adapted from Darra Goldstein’s A Taste of Russia and calling for a lot of butter and cream cheese.
So it’s like I was telling you… If you skip the soy sauce, black garlic, star anise, cremini mushrooms, black truffle, oxtail, cauliflower purée, and pie dough, you get a classic beef Stroganoff!
Yields about 4 servings
about 900 g oxtail
10 g canola oil
- Season the oxtail with salt. Heat the canola oil in a pan over high heat, then sauté the meat until brown on all sides. Let rest for a couple minutes.
- Transfer the meat to a sous-vide pouch, and cook in a 77 C / 171 F water bath for 24 hours. Open the sous-vide pouch, and transfer the cooking liquid to a plastic container. Let cool and refrigerate.
- Remove any extra fat and rubbery skin from the oxtail, and pick the meat off the bones. Place the meat into a plastic container, let cool and refrigerate. Discard the bones.
- Refrigerate the liquid for at least 6 hours to separate the jus from the fat (you can also use a fat separator to speed up the process). You should end up with 280-320 g meat, 40-60 g rendered fat, and 120-150 g jus without fat.
Yields 4 servings (4 round pies of 15 cm each)
180 g butter, softened
180 g cream cheese
20 g egg yolk
240 g AP flour
2.5 g salt
6 g baking powder
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip the butter and cream cheese on high speed until airy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as needed. Add the egg yolk, and mix on medium speed for a few seconds.
- Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add to the bowl in a few additions, while mixing on low speed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix again until the dough is homogeneous.
- Take the dough out of the bowl, and shape into four balls of about 150 g each. Flatten each ball, wrap individually in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. The dough can be prepared in advance, but must be taken out of the fridge for at least half an hour before being used.
Yields 4 servings
300 g cauliflower florets
15 g butter
1 pinch ground nutmeg
- Cook the cauliflower in a pot of salted boiling water for about 15 minutes, until tender. Drain in a colander.
- Transfer to a blender, add the butter and nutmeg, and process until smooth. Rectify the seasoning if needed, then transfer to a plastic container. Let cool, and reserve.
Beef oxtail Stroganoff
Yields 4 servings
160 g cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
40 g oxtail rendered fat
15 g soy sauce
black pepper, ground
120 g peeled red onion, very thinly sliced
20 g peeled black garlic, minced
1 g ground star anise
10 g butter
10 g flour
120 g oxtail jus
210 g beef stock
110 g sour cream
10 g mustard
280 g oxtail meat
- In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the mushrooms in 2/3 of the oxtail fat until soft, stirring regularly. Add the soy sauce, season with black pepper, then stir for a few seconds. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.
- In the same saucepan, sauté the onion in the remaining oxtail fat until brown. Add the black garlic and star anise, and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
- Add the butter and flour to the saucepan, and make a blond roux: cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns golden brown.
- Add the oxtail jus and the beef stock, bring to a simmer, and cook for a few minutes until thickened, still stirring regularly.
- Stir in the sour cream, mustard, oxtail meat, and mushrooms. Simmer over low heat for 10 minutes, and rectify the salt level.
- You should have 800 g of beef Stroganoff. If you have more, continue reducing on low heat. If you have less, top off with more beef stock. Reserve.
Yields 4 servings (4 individual pies)
15 g egg yolk
15 g water
beef oxtail Stroganoff
20 g black winter truffle
flour (for dusting)
- In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and water to make an egg wash.
- Divide the cauliflower purée between individual round pie dishes (each approximately 15 cm wide and 4.5 cm tall). Top with beef oxtail Stroganoff.
- Cut 4/5 of the black truffle into a fine julienne, and sprinkle on top of the Stroganoff.
- Roll each piece of dough to an 18 cm diameter disc. Working with one disc at a time, brush the edges with egg wash, then flip the dough over the pie dish, pressing the edges against the outer walls of the dish to make them stick.
- Thoroughly brush all over the dough with egg wash, and carve a small chimney in the center using a paring knife.
- Place a dish filled with water on the bottom rack of the oven, and heat to 175 C / 350 F.
- Bake the pies for 30-35 minutes on the center rack, until golden brown. Let cool for a couple minutes.
- Grate the remaining black truffle on top of the chimney holes using a Microplane grater, and serve.