Cook the rice according to the packet instructions until it’s just undercooked and drain in a colander. Put the rice back in the pan, cover with tinfoil and leave to steam – this will give you incredibly light and fluffy rice.
Heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in a lug of extra virgin olive oil. Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until softened and golden. Remove from the heat and spoon the onions and garlic out of the pan on to a plate. Keep to one side.
Season the meat well with salt, pepper and paprika. Rub and massage these flavourings into the meat. Place the frying pan back on a high heat and pour in some more olive oil. Add the mushrooms and fry for a few minutes until they start to brown. Then add the meat and fry for a minute or two before adding the parsley stalks (you can do this in two pans or in batches if your pan is not big enough) and the cooked onion and garlic. Toss and add the butter and brandy.
You don’t have to set light to the hot brandy, but flaming does give an interesting flavour so I always like to do this. Once the flames die down, or after a couple of minutes of simmering, stir in the lemon zest and all but 1 tablespoon of the crème fraîche and season to taste. Continue simmering for a few minutes. Any longer than this and the meat will toughen up – it doesn’t need long as it’s been cut up so small.
Serve your fluffy rice on one big plate and your stroganoff on another. Simply spoon the remaining crème fraîche over the stroganoff, then sprinkle over the sliced gherkins and parsley leaves. Eat at once!