Recipe: Leo Y’s Olivie (Russian Potato Salad)

Olivie Russian Potato Sald

Olivie, or Russian potato salad. Note the uniform size of the potato cubes.

My friend Leo Y brought this famous salad, a staple at Russian festive events, to a Yelp potluck. He emphasizes that the cubes of each element must be equal in size for a proper olivie; in fact, according to his wife Jess he sent back the first batch prepared for their wedding because the potatoes were unevenly chopped. I have modified the proportions slightly while keeping his directions intact. Serves 8.

5 medium potatoes (about 2 lbs)
3 medium carrots (about 1 lb)
4 hard boiled eggs
8 oz or more cooked skinless chicken breast* or doctorksaya bologna**, optional
14-oz can peas (not fancy new peas, just regular peas), drained
2 whole dill pickles or equivalent amount of chopped dill pickles, about 8 oz
½ c or more mayonnaise
1 medium onion, finely chopped, about 3/4 c
Sour cream, optional
Small green apple peeled, cored and shredded, optional
Fresh dill for garnish, optional

Method: boil potatoes and carrots in skin (it helps to keep vitamins), then cool them down and peel them. Chop potatoes, carrots, eggs, meat, dill pickles into pea sized squares. Add green peas and salt. Trust your own taste, everything must be in proportion. Stir mayonnaise only for the part of salad you are going to eat. It will be kept better without it. Mix the salad and refrigerate for a while. If you want your salad a little tender, mix a part of mayonnaise with an equal part of sour cream. Bon appetit! Stir in chopped onions [and optional shredded apple] immediately before serving and garnish with fresh dill for additional flavor.

*Adding meat to the basic olivie turns it into a “capital” style salad, with extra cachet.
*Doctorskaya bologna is worth sourcing out if you have an Eastern European deli in your area. It is made from pork and very fine-ground with an appealing waxy texture from generous amount of fat or oil.

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