Bowl of Salad Olivier
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Salad Olivier / Russian Salad
Russia, Poland & Everywhere else   -   Salat Oliv'ye
Makes
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
4-1/2 #  
**
12 hrs  
Best
This famous salad is made in endless variations in Russia and elsewhere. None of them much resemble the original, served by chef Lucien Olivier in the 1870s at Moscow's Hermitage restaurant. This variation is mine, derived from several Russian sources and combining some pre and some post Soviet ingredients (but no grouse). See Note-8 and subsequent for background.



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#
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Potatoes (1)
Carrots
Eggs, large
Cooked Meat (2)
Cucumber (3)
Pickle (4)
Peas, frozen (5)
-- Dressing
Mayonnaise (6)
Sour Cream
Mustard
Lemon Juice
Salt
Pepper
-- Garnish
Capers
Black Olives (7)
Make   -   (12 hrs - 45 min work)
  1. Peel and dice POTATOES and CARROTS about 1/2 inch on a side. Simmer in salted water just long enough to make them tender. Drain and cool.
  2. Boil EGGS quite firm. Cool, peel and cut into half wedges.
  3. Dice MEAT about 1/2 inch on a side. Add to Potatoes.
  4. Dice CUCUMBER about 1/2 inch, PICKLES about 1/4 inch on a side. Add to the Potatoes
  5. Mix PEAS in with the potatoes. No need to thaw.
  6. For Garnish, pit OLIVES. Drain CAPERS.
  7. Thoroughly mix all Dressing items then mix into the Potatoes until well distributed. Finally, mix in the Eggs.
  8. Refrigerate overnight (if possible), and serve cold, garnished with Olives and Capers.
NOTES:
  1. Potatoes:   White Rose are good for this recipe, but Red Potatoes are also fine. "Yukon Gold" type could be used also (though I'm not fond of the flavor) but they should be cooked separately from the carrots to make sure they aren't over cooked and mushy. For details see our Potatoes page.
  2. Meat:   This may be one or more meats. Most "authentic" is Doctorskaya (Russian style bologna), followed by Tongue and Ham. Boiled or smoked Chicken is also used, but then it should be called Salade Stolichny (after Ivan Ivanov's salad). The photo example used Doctorskaya.
  3. Cucumber:   If possible use Persian cucumbers, or some other variety that doesn't require peeling and seeding.
  4. Pickle:   Originally this salad included only cucumber, but this was often expensive and difficult to get in Soviet Moscow, so it was replaced by pickles. The taste of pickles is now so thoroughly expected in Salat Oliv'ye that I have included some.
  5. Peas:   If you use fresh peas, boil them for for 5 minutes in salted water. In Soviet Russia canned peas would be used - in fact, to accurately reproduce Soviet cuisine (or our Eisenhower era "cuisine") is the only legitimate use for canned peas. Any market serving a Russian community will have several imported brands.
  6. Mayonnaise:   Home made is best, but perhaps too risky in "business friendly" regions of the country. Use Hellman's (east of the Mississippi) or Best Foods (west of the Mississippi) "Real Mayonnaise", widely agreed to be the best commercial product.
  7. Olives:   Weight is for pitted olives. These should be Mediterranean oil cured black olives, not the canned California black olives - unless you really want to replicate Soviet cuisine. I use small Kalamata olives which I can buy factory pitted.
  8. History:   No one can make an "authentic" Olivier Salad. Olivier kept the dressing recipe a tightly held secret which died with him. Ivan Ivanov, a sous chef at the Hermitage made the best attempt to steal the recipe, but his version is known to be somewhat defective. In any case, the original recipe is known to have included Grouse, Veal tongue, Crayfish, Caviar, Lettuce, Smoked duck and Capers. Veal tongue is still used in higher priced versions, Lettuce is still used by some, and Capers are used as a garnish, but the rest have fallen out of use. The dressing was a kind of mayonnaise containing French wine vinegar, Provençal olive oil and mustard, but the exact recipe is unknown. The ingredients were progressively cheapened, particularly during the Soviet era. Doktorskaya replaced Grouse, Boiled Eggs replaced Crayfish, Pickles replaced Cucumbers and canned Green Peas replaced Capers and Olives. Today this salad remains essential for New Years celebrations among Russians.
  9. Poland: The Polish version is very much like the Russian, with the same wide range of variations - except it never contains any kind of meat, fowl or seafood. It's usually called "Cooked Vegetable Salad" or just "Vegetable Salad" - no credits to Russians from these folks.
  10. Russian Salad:   This salad is also popular in Iran (with Chicken, often used as a sandwich filler), Turkey (no meat, often used as a sandwich filler), Greece (no meat), Spain (for tapas, canned tuna in place of meat), Bulgaria, Serbia (with salami or ham) and Croatia (no meat).
  11. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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