Where’s the (lo­cal) beef?

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - FOOD, DRINK and OTHER MAT­TERS with Pa­trick Skin­ner

Lo­cal fil­let steak is very good, but you sel­dom see it in restau­rants. Rea­sons given to me usu­ally run like this: “Lo­cal is OK, but the sizes of the pieces are of­ten dif­fer­ent. You can’t rely on it”. The res­tau­ra­teur doesn’t add that it’s eas­ier to keep frozen im­ported steaks of uni­form size in his freezer. When I have sug­gested that dishes like Boeuf Stroganoff (be­low) use lit­tle slices and not big pieces, a shrug of the shoul­ders is a fre­quent re­sponse. I would much pre­fer “odd” slices of fresh lo­cal fil­let to great chunks of de-frosted New Zealand, Aus­tralian or Ar­gen­tinean, which are short on flavour.

So, save money this week. Eat your “Bon Filet” at home and sup­port the lo­cal meat in­dus­try. Of all beef steak recipes, in my view, Boeuf Stroganoff is one of the best. It isn’t dif­fi­cult ei­ther. It is said to have been in­vented in the mid-1800s by one Count Paul Stroganoff, a Rus­sian diplo­mat. It is also recorded that an 1861 Rus­sian cook book called “A Gift to Young Housewives” was pub­lished, in­clud­ing the recipe called “Beef à la Stroganov, with mus­tard”. This called for lightly floured beef cubes (not strips) sautéed, sauced with pre­pared mus­tard and bouil­lon, and fin­ished with a small amount of sour cream. Note there were no onions, or mush­rooms.

Af­ter the fall of Tsarist Rus­sia, the dish seems to have mi­grated east­wards, to be found in the ho­tels and restau­rants of China be­fore the start of World War II, pre­sum­ably for the for­eign com­mu­nity. A fur­ther mi­gra­tion in the 1940s and 1950s took it to the United States, where it evolved into the “clas­sic” in­ter­na­tional favourite, con­sist­ing strips of beef filet with a mush­room, onion, and sour cream sauce, and is served with rice or pasta. Any­way, “Boeuf Stroganoff” has a lovely

to it and if in fact it was in­vented by a gen­uine Rus­sian Count, then all praise to him. Who­ever he was, his name lives on. thinly sliced sweet pick­led cu­cum­bers (Ger­man are rec­om­mended) at stage (9). Ei­ther way, this is de­li­cious! Now, for a sim­ple steak dish which brings out the full flavour of the meat. You’ll need a bunch or two of the large spring onions (scal­lions).

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