WEEK THIRTEEN CHALLENGE: RUSSIAN

What a busy week!  Russian dishes follow the cheese ones in our first ever DOUBLE DISH WEEK.

You won’t have to travel around the world for these great Russian dishes – they can all be made in your very own kitchen.  Which one would you rather see coming to you from Russia with love, the  Roasted Chicken Borscht or the  Shashlyk (Шашлык) with Roasted Potatoes and Crème Fraiche ?

Roasted Chicken Borscht

Bears… beets… battlestar galactica… BORSCHT!  Borscht is classically a vibrant and meaty dish made vibrant by a healthy dose of beets and made heavy and meaty with a healthy dose of short ribs and beef stock.  Its stick-to-your-ribs goodness is probably why it is favored in the cold Russian winters, but as spring crests here in America, we figured the 52WCC fans may be looking for something a little lighter that can help one get ready for swimsuit season.  Russian cooking doesn’t traditionally use many spices so use of high quality ingredients is important to impart a strong clean flavor – as always, homemade chicken stock and locally sourced fresh veggies are going to bring out the great flavors in this dish.  Another way that we are going to bring some extra flavor to the party is by roasting the beets before adding them to the soup to bring out a caramelized complex flavor.  Remember, in mother Russia the BORSCHT cooks you!

Roasted Chicken Borscht

  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery diced
  • 1/4 head of red cabbage sliced thin
  • 3 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 medium beets, chopped to 1 inch pieces, tossed in olive oil and roasted in 400 degree oven until fork tender and browned
  • 1 large red onion, chopped to 1/2 inch size
  • 2 1/2 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 cup of roasted chicken (breast and thighs) shredded
  1. Place large dutch oven over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of butter, carrots, onion, and celery.  Cook for 10 minutes until translucent.
  2. Add cabbage and garlic and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add beets, potato and chicken stock and bring to a simmer.  Cover and allow to simmer for 15-20 minutes until potato is soft.
  4. Add chicken and allow to heat through
  5. Add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve with a dollop of sour cream.
Shashlyk (Шашлык) with Roasted Potatoes and Crème Fraiche

Fire roasted meat bursting with flavor, who could resist? Shashlyk (Шашлык) is a form of Shish kebab popular throughout the former Soviet Union and has become a staple in Russian cuisine. Shashlyk comes from the Caucasian Mountain tribesmen and became popular after the conquest of the Caucasus in the 19th century. Russian and European travelers began to flock to the area under the romanticized vision portrayed by the likes of Pushkin, Lermontov, and Byron. These travelers noted the delicacy of the shashlyk thus becoming a staple in Russian cuisine.

The key to this delicious savory treat lies in the marinade. The meat is originally lamb, pork, or chicken, marinated overnight in an acidic marinade with the addition of herbs and spices. Many cooks stress the importance of kneading the marinade into the meat. The acid gives a brightness to the perfectly grilled meat while helping to tenderize it. Served along with roasted sweet and new potatoes and onions and a dollop of garlic and chive Crème fraiche makes this flavorful dish and wonderful culinary adventure.

Roasted Potatoes:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
  • 4 medium – large new potatoes, cut into 1” cubes
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray large rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Mix sweet potatoes, new potatoes, onions, rosemary, thyme, and olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Spread sweet and new potato mixture on baking sheet. Roast until potatoes begin to soften, stirring occasionally, about 30-40 minutes.

Garlic and Chive Crème Fraiche:

  • 1 cup Crème fraiche (sour cream can be substituted)
  • 2-3 tablespoons  chives, finely sliced
  • 1-2 cloves crushed garlic
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. Combine ingredients in a bowl and set aside for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to merry.

Pork and Chicken Shashlyk:

  • 2 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 1-1/2” cubes
  • 2lbs chicken breast, cut into 1-1/2” cubes
  • 1-1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 2 medium – large onions chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  1. In a bowl, combine pork, chicken, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, salt and herbs. Allow to marinate at least 2-3 hours prior to cooking, preferably overnight.
  2. Place marinated meat on skewers (about 4 cubes per skewer). If using wooden skewers,  be sure to soak them in water for at least 2 hrs prior to threading the meat and cooking so that they do not burn.
  3. Cook pork and chicken skewers on grill for 12-15- minutes, or until golden brown and slightly charred. Turn occasionally to ensure even cooking and to prevent burning.
  4. Serve along side with potatoes and top with garlic chive crème fraiche and enjoy!
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One response

  1. Pingback: The Leftover Diaries: Volume V | 52 Week Cooking Challenge

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