This is our third post, as my six-year old daughter and I continue our journey to cook our way around the world.
Approximately once a week, Grace will pick a country and we’ll research the food of that nation and pick a traditional dish that we want to try. We’ll shop and cook together, and maybe even work in a side trip to an ethnic market or food-truck, once in a while.
We’ll post our processes, notes, and maybe a brief anecdote, but mostly it’s going to be about the recipes.
Last time, we visited the Hawaiian Islands for one of my all-time favorite foods: Salmon Poke. This week, Gracie went for that big orange country at the top of the map…Russia!
Russia is by area the largest country in the world, with a hugely diverse cuisine, so it would be nearly impossible to chose a single dish that would represent all of it. Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of plentiful fish, poultry, game, cabbage, berries, and honey.
Additionally, Russia cuisine enjoys a plethora of breads, pancakes, cereals, beer and, of course, the ubiquitous Russian vodka.
Mushrooms are also a huge part of Russian cuisine and they are included in just about every way possible. With the addition of sour cream and fresh dill, the flavor profile of this week’s dish is classic Russian.
Here are some things we learned about Russia:
~ Russia is so big that it includes 11 time zones. At its easternmost point, Russia is only about 50 miles from Alaska.
~ In the city, most people live in high-rise apartments. The apartments are small and some families share kitchens or bathrooms.
~ A traditional Russian meal consists of fish, potatoes, vegetables and bread. Fresh meat and vegetables were once very hard to get, but new trade agreements have increased the supply.
~ Only about 10% of the land in Russia can be used for farming because of the cold. The largest crops grown are potatoes, barley, and wheat.
Chicken Kotletki with Sour Cream Mushroom Sauce & Sweet Cabbage Salad
4 cups cooked long grain rice, hot
2 1/2 cups cubed cooked chicken*
2 Tbsp. butter
16 oz button mushrooms
1 onion, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tablespoon flour
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. sour cream
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, minced
Mise en Place
Cube chicken (equal parts white and dark meat), clean and quarter mushrooms, chop onion and celery. Mince garlic and dill.
Need some help with your chopping, dicing, and mincing? See this post.
*You can bake your own chicken or use a store-bought rotisserie chicken for this dish.
Prepare the Dish
Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the fresh mushrooms, onion, celery, garlic, and thyme (whole stalk). Season with salt and pepper. Add flour, mix well, and cook for about 10 minutes.
Pour in the chicken broth, heavy cream, and sour cream. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook ten minutes to thicken.
Sprinkle Kotletki with fresh dill, and serve over hot rice, with cabbage salad.
Sweet Cabbage Salad
The sweet-tart, acidic component to this salad pairs perfectly with the rich, luxurious mushroom sauce in the Kotletki.
1 half a small head of cabbage
2 small cucumbers
1 large carrot
1 celery stalk
1 medium yellow bell pepper
fresh herbs (scallions, dill, parsley)
2-3 Tbsp. sunflower oil
2-3 Tbsp. distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp. sugar
salt, pepper, to taste
Shred cabbage. Julienne cukes, carrots, and bell pepper. Slice celery, apple, and radishes (thin). Mince herbs.
For the dressing: Combine oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper in a bowl, and whisk to combine.
Toss veggies with dressing and serve immediately, or chill up to 1 hour.