"Olivier" - the non-Russian Russian salad
It is impossible to imagine Russian cuisine without this delicate multicolored salad that seems to be a mixture of everything found in the fridge dressed with mayonnaise. This salad is a part of Russian history and is a true traditional symbol of New Year.
The beloved salad of millions of Russians carries its name after Lucien Olivier, French (some sources say Belgian) cook that moved to Russia for better life in the middle of 19th century. Coming to Moscow he opened a fancy restaurant called "Ermitage" that became very popular among local gourmands. Olivier (the cook yet) did everything about the restaurant himself, and of course, he was the one to develop the menu after making deep research on the tastes of local foodies. One of the newly invented dishes was a very special salad.
The master was creative not only making the recipe but also arranging the way it was served. The main ingredient were the fried pieces of grouse and partridge meat. On the edges of the plate there should have been put boiled crawfish, slices of veil tongue and red caviar. The center of composition was a pile of baked potatoes, eggs and gherkins chopped in small cubes. All of this colorful composition of ingredients was meant to be dressed with special sauce "Provansal" (reminding of Provence) that the cook invented himself. But Olivier once noticed that guests did not pay much tribute to his design and mixed his beautiful creation into shapeless mash and after that eat it with noticeable appetite. The next day Olivier corrected his mistake and mixed all of the ingredients himself before serving the dish. The result made the cook immortal, at least in Russia. Though there are still many doubts, the original recipe looked like this:
- 1/4 pound of red caviar,
- two partridges,
- veil tongue,
- 25 boiled crayfishes,
- 1/2 tin of soybeans Kabul,
- 2 fresh cucumbers,
- half pound of fresh lettuce,
- half tin of gherkins,
- 1/4 pound of capers,
- 5 well boiled eggs.
To cook the sauce one would need: French vinegar, two fresh eggs and olive oil (from Provence) - this would make 1 pound of mayonnaise (ta-dam!)
Nevertheless this was not the end of the salad's history. In 1930s the chef of restaurant "Moscow" Ivan Ivanov made some corrections of the recipe and called it "Wildfowl salad". And couples of decades later the final composition of the salad was set, and its name today is Stolichny. Today the classical version of it means chicken to be the main ingredient. And contemporary best-known recipe of Olivier that all the families use to cook the traditional chief of the table is the following:
- 5 boiled potatoes of medium size cut in small cubes (cm by cm or a bit smaller),
- 5 well boiled eggs cut the same way,
- 1 average carrot, of course, in cubes,
- 1 can of peas (no need to cut it),
- 3 pickled cucumbers - I guess you already know everything about cubes,
- 3 halves of chicken breasts boiled and cut...
Mixing it all up just add about 100 grams of mayonnaise - better use you feelings to avoid your cubes drown in it or to keep it too dry adding one spoon after another. The picture will help you understand the perfect look!
In Soviet times though (especially after war) there were no grouses nor partridges available. But there appeared "doctor's sausage" (more about it in the next posts). And it was fast to substitute chicken in the salad. Later on when people could afford a bit more than sausage, they would add beef in the salad (well-boiled for few hours). And it became classic version as well. Today any Russian recipe of their own Olivier so get ready to see the Fish Olivier, the Mushroom Olivier. Though most of the places would still offer you the meet version (with either beef, chicken or sausage). But make sure to try it coming to Russia!!!