Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Stolichnyi Salat (Metropolitan Salad aka Awesome Russian Potato Salad)

Ingredients (for 8-10 servings)
2lb of potatoes
a carrot or two
other veggies (some peas, or pickle relish are common, chopped scallions great, lots of things work)
2 apples (cored, and chopped not peeled, if you can use one apple each of 2 colors great)
1 orange (or even better a peach or two)
1/2 lb of meat (cooked chicken is my go to, sausage is also common, I'm gonna make it vegetarian next time, I'll bet that works too)
3 boiled eggs
olive (or other) oil, 2tbsp + 1tbsp
white wine vinegar, 2tbsp + 1tbsp
sour cream, 1/2 cup+ 1/4th cup
mayonnaise (bonus points for homemade), 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup
Salt   (if you want pepper, use white pepper, black pepper doesn't look right, I usually use neither)
Fresh dill or parsley if possible


Boil the potatoes, then cut them into chunks while warm
Boil carrot(s), and slice them,
If you haven't boiled the eggs, or prepped the meat do that
Chop or slice the apples, fruit, veggies, and put em in a huge bowl.
Seperate out the egg yolks for use in the sauce, (you can chop up the whites and throw em in with the fruits and veggies that's good)

OK the heart of the Russian Potato Salad style is the weird sauce, the best version of which uses a technique I'd never seen in an American kitchen before this.  You push the egg yolks through a mesh seive and into a smaller mixing bowl with your fingers.  You get a whole bunch of very fine strands of cooked egg yolk.  If the eggs are boiled really hard it can be difficult but will still work, if they are on the soft side of hard-boiled it's pretty easy.  Exactly which mesh sieve you use can make a difference too.  A lot will cling to the other side of the seive and you need to scape it off into the bowl.  Then you mix 2tbsp of oil, and 2tbsp of white wine vinegar in with the egg yolk threads, and it will become a sauce-like thing.  Then add 1/2 cup of sour cream, and a 1/2 cup of mayo (and parsley/dill if you want) and mix again.  The result is the awesome Russian potato salad sauce.  American potato salads emphasize the mayo, German potato salads emphasize the mustard,  French potato salads emphasize the oil and vinegar.  Russian potato salads emphasize the balance of mayo, sour cream, and oil and vinegar, and often is bound together with the egg yolks.

Pour the sauce over the stuff and mix thoroughly.  It needs to sit in a fridge for a while too, ideally overnight, but a couple of hours works OK.  It does get better with time.

In my version, right before you pull it out to serve it, you make another 1/2 batch of the sauce (definately with dill or parsley this time), and pour that over the top (rather than mixing in).  You can mound it all on a platter, pour the extra sauce and serve, or plate it yourself and pour the extra sauce on each serving.

Stolychnyi Salat, is also called Salat Oliv'ye after the French Chef Olivier who introduced it in Moscow in the 1860s  (the little bit of sweet from a few sweet fruits mixed in is the key to this specific one).  Salat Bagration is the same basic thing with cooked macaroni instead of potatoes.  If you add beets the result will turn the sauce pink, but that can be done too.  My version comes from Darra Goldstein's book "A la Russe: A Cookbook of Russian Hospitality" with my own additions and variations, (I'm BP Morton, if this gets copied).  You can find loooots of variations on the web, it's very flexible.  I think the complex sauce here is worth the effort, but you'll see it made with just sour cream and dill in Russia sometimes, too.  You could probably also substitute yogurt in for the mayo if you wanted.

We tend to eat a lot of potato salad in the summer, but this one actually works in the winter too, and potato salad in the winter is a lovely change-of-pace / surprise

1 comment:

  1. As it turns out this salad is also lovely with a sprinkling of cracklins (the remains from lard rendering) made by one's friends ... guess that would have to be Salat Terre Hautey