Saturday Cooking: Bitoks à la Russe

This dish is so inexpensive, yet simple and elegant.  It also has a rich sauce that I always enjoy.  I found this recipe originally in Pierre Franey’s The 60-Minute Gourmet, which I bought when I lived in Pennsylvania thirty years ago.  I did not know how to cook well back then, and it was the first recipe I felt came out the way it was intended.  I have since added some Dijon mustard, just for a little something different.  I have moved several times, and I cannot locate the book, so the recipe here reflects how I have come to prepare this dish over the years.

Quite plainly, this meal is merely hamburger patties fried on both sides and covered in a Stroganoff-like sauce.  It takes about twenty minutes to make, and it is keto-compliant, for those on that regimen.

It is also good fun to make with kids or company.  I tell the little ones that it is called “fancy hamburger.” (NOTE: Children handling uncooked meat should wash their hands thoroughly after.)

This recipe serves two to four people.


Two pounds of ground beef
Salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ground thyme to taste
One shallot, finely chopped
One clove of garlic, finely chopped
One jigger of Cognac or brandy
One ounce of Dijon mustard
Four to six ounces of sour cream
Beef stock, as needed, in case the sauce becomes too thick
Parsley for a garnish


Form four patties out of the ground beef and apply seasonings to both sides.  Place in a highly heated skillet with butter, and brown on both sides and cook to desired doneness.  Put on a plate and keep warm in the oven.

Reduce any juices in the pan and add the garlic and shallots until lightly browned.  Add the brandy and set alight (turn the lights off in the kitchen to make it more spectacular).

Deglaze the pan with the mustard and sour cream.  Turn off the heat and add beef stock, if necessary, to thin the sauce to the desired consistency.

Prepare separate plates with one or two hamburgers, as desired.  Pour the sauce over the burgers, and garnish with parsley.

I recommend a Bordeaux Superieur for the grown-ups.  The sauce is rich and flavorful.  I usually serve asparagus on the side.

If you are not on a ketogenic diet, anyone would understand the impulse to use slices of baguette to clean the sauce off the plate.

I am participating in the Slice of Life Challenge sponsored by Two Writing Teachers.

13 thoughts on “Saturday Cooking: Bitoks à la Russe

  1. This sounds delicious. That asparagus pairing, and the wine……such a tasty meal, prepared with a loving heart. And the napkin – – the cloth napkin – – oh, how I love a cloth napkin.

    1. Thank you! And so interesting that you noticed the napkin. I need real things on my table–even if I spend extra time ironing on Sundays. The extra effort is a small price to pay. Nice of you to read my post.

  2. So interesting how Bitoks à la Russe becomes simply hamburgers covered in sauce. I am intrigued by this step: Add the brandy and set alight. I plan to make this just to dim the lights and fire away! I only use recipes that include a photo. For confidence, I need to see what it is suppose to look like so I am glad to see the completed dish. I love reading recipes but haven’t ever chosen to write in a recipe format. So glad you shared this! Thanks.

  3. I appreciate the hinted-at subtext in this slice: the (re)making of a recipe over time; the internalizing through repetition, the tweaking and ad-libbing that blend familiar and new into something your own.

  4. A favorite combo: food & writing. (And a rich sauce). This was a pleasure to read. –Not on a keto diet.

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