My Recipe: Melting Pot Stew
Russia, Eastern Europe, Eurasia, whatever you want to call it. Its a melting pot of ethnic diversity, culture, and ideologies. What better way to combine all these ingredients than in a stew? It makes sense, stews are an easy way to combine your rations. Depending on where in the region you are, you will need to alter the recipe in accordance with what you have on hand. That depends on the seasons, the harvest, who happens to be ruling.. and rationing. Luckily the basics of a stew are pretty simple. The general ingredient base is as follows: meat, vegetable (I am told that Russians like their vegetables VERY soft), and a starch (potatoes ,pasta, rice or widely popular in Romania, polenta)
Here I’ll try to take traditional stews from the whole region, and combine them in a way that would be reminiscent of a “melting pot”. This undefinable region is made of hundreds of different ancient ethnic groups, different environments, different governments, and different traditions. It is not much different than America. Dishes originate when cultures meet. In my opinion, those dishes are the most love-labored and delicious. Point and case: Creole food.
As much oxtail as you can afford/ are supplied
Root vegetables (carrots, beets, turnip, parsnip)
For our starch we will use the quintessential dumpling, because anywhere you go will have them.
Sauerkraut after the meal *for good digestion*
Red wine and broth derived from oxtail
- Employ your eldest children to chop your root vegetables
- Brown the oxtail in a pan with onions and oil or butter
- Add wine to pan with oxtail and onions to create a stock. season to your liking
- Add root vegetables to the stock
- Add several cups of water
- Pan sear the cheese filled dumplings
- After some time, pull the oxtails out of the stock
cut into pieces, reseason, return to stock
- Add flour to the stock to thicken if needed
Do not put the dumpling in the pot, instead, pour your stew over them so they do not get too tender and break apart.
Served in big bowls over the dumplings and sauerkraut at the end of the meal for digestion.
Because the dumplings can be pre-made and frozen, this dish is relatively easy. I created this dish thinking of cold winters at home in Massachusetts and the bone-defrosting warmth of my Mom's beef stew. I thought since a large part of this region has cold winters also, this is a cheap, "throw in a pot and cook" kind of dish that represented many different states with the ingredients chosen. Some are more Russian ingredients, some more widely loved in places like Poland or even Hungary. Some, like the dumpling, are universal through the region or even the world.
This is a family meal, a weeknight meal. Eaten at the table with good helpings of daily gossip and anecdotes