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October 29, 2014

Russian Salad

Christmas is just around the corner, and it’s time to celebrate with friends and family. Russian salad is a memorable dish I would often see at parties. The sugar beets color parts of the mayonnaise bright pink, while the carrots and string beans add color. For a Russian Salad to be mostly pink, that would mean the beets were added at the beginning of the mixing process. I like it when the colors are more separate and clearly seen, so this version has the beets added at the end.

Some versions of Russian Salad use mayonnaise or oil and vinegar. This one uses both, to make it tastier. The vegetables used are the standard combination, but you can add diced ham, celery, or apples if you like. I’ve heard of some people using 2 different kinds of apples, usually a diced Fuji or Red apple to add a bit of sweetness. For an extra tang, you can add a diced Granny Smith apple. You can also use leftover roasted chicken instead of boiling a chicken thigh. Just use the bones to make the chicken stock.

Ingredients

  •   500 grams potatoes, about 4-6 medium sized potatoes
  •   250 grams carrots, about 2-3 medium sized carrots
  •   250 grams string beans
  •   250 grams sugar beets, about 2-4 beets
  •   250 grams chicken with bone, use one thigh with leg attached
  •   90 milliliters (6 tablespoons) red vinegar
  •   water for boiling
  •   ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  •   30 milliliters (2 tablespoons) olive oil
  •   sea salt or rock salt to taste
  •   white sugar to taste

IMG_0293

Procedure

  1.  Prepare a bowl that can hold at least 1 liter and half-fill it with water. Wash, peel, and dice potatoes. Place diced potatoes in water to keep from changing  color. Add water if needed to cover potatoes. Set aside.
  2.  Wash, peel, and dice carrots. Set aside.
  3.  Wash string beans. Gently break of any hard tips with your fingers and pull off any strings. Slice  into 1 centimeter (about ⅓ inch) segments. Set aside.
  4.  Get a large pot. Place over stove. Pour in water until half full.
  5.  Add 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  6.  Add chicken thigh. If you have any leftover chicken bones from a previous recipe, add them to make the stock more flavorful.
  7.  Set heat to medium and cook for 20 minutes, or until meat is tender.
  8.  Turn off heat. Remove chicken thigh from liquid and place on a plate.
  9.  Keep liquid in the pot for boiling vegetables. The liquid in the pot is a basic chicken stock. Use a fine strainer to scoop out chicken bones and any bits of  meat left behind. You want the liquid to be as clear as possible for use with the vegetables.
  10.  Using a fork and knife, debone and cut chicken into bite sized pieces. Use fork to mash chicken into shreds. If you included the chicken skin, slice as thinly  as possible and dice finely. Set aside.
  11.  Drain water from potatoes. Add potatoes to chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat for it to simmer. Leave pot uncovered.
  12.  After 5 minutes, add carrots.
  13.  After 5 minutes, check if potatoes are done by piercing with a fork. When the fork easily slides to the center of the potato, it is done. If there is some  resistance, cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  14.  Remove potatoes and carrots from heat and drain into a colander. Run cold water through the colander for at least 1-3 minutes to allow potatoes and carrots  to cool quickly. Leave to drain. Set aside.
  15.  In another pot, add water until halfway full, 1 tablespoon rock salt and ¼ teaspoon baking soda. Bring water to a boil uncovered.
  16.  When water is boiling, add string beans and cook for 1 minute.
  17.  Remove from heat. Drain immediately into a colander and run cold water through it for at least 1 minutes to stop the string beans from cooking further.  Leave to drain for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  18.  Get a small pot. Place over stove. Pour in water until half full. Bring water to a boil.
  19.  Add sugar beets, and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Use the testing procedure in Step 13 to check for tenderness.
  20.  Remove beets from heat and drain into a colander. Run cold water through the beets for at least 1 minute to cool them. Leave to drain in the colander. Set  aside.
  21.  Prepare vinegar mixture. Add vinegar, olive oil, 1 teaspoon white sugar, and ½ teaspoon rock salt. well until salt and sugar dissolve. Taste. If needed, add  more salt and sugar until it is to your liking. Make sure the salt and sugar have fully dissolved before adding more. Mix well. Set aside.
  22.  Get a large mixing bowl big enough to hold all the ingredients. Add potatoes, carrots, chicken, and string beans. Stir together gently. You want the  ingredients to be mixed well.
  23.  Add mayonnaise and 3 tablespoons of vinegar mixture. Gently mix to incorporate mayonnaise into the mixture.
  24.  Taste. If needed, add 1 tablespoon vinegar mixture, and mix until fully incorporated. Make sure to keep tasting the mixture after each addition of vinegar  mixture until you it is to your liking.
  25.  Add sugar beets. Mix to incorporate.
  26.  Transfer to a serving container. Cover with plastic wrap or use a container that has a cover. Chill for at least 1 hour, then serve.

When we make this for the house, we divide the salad into serving portions and transfer to an appropriately sized container to prevent it from spoiling quickly. Russian salad lasts in the refrigerator for 2-3 days before spoiling.

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