Boeuf Salad | Salate de Boeuf

This is one of the essential Romanian recipes, a dish that rarely misses from a bigger feast with family or friends. I actually don't remember a time when I visited someone in Romania during the winter holidays, and did not have this served at the table as an appetizer.

The recipe combines three of the common ingredients in our cuisine. First, there's the meat (I find it very intriguing that the recipe name comes from the French word "beouf" that means beef, and still I've only seen this dish cooked with either chicken or without meat at all). Second, there are the potatoes, a common trend in Romanian dishes (they last a long time without requiring refrigeration, so they're particularly popular throughout the cold season). Third, there are the pickles: they are our approach to preserve vegetables through the winter without requiring a refrigerator. No, there is no garlic in this Romanian recipe. :)

I do hope that you'll find a chance to prepare this recipe, and to enjoy it with friends or loved ones.

 - Five red potatoes
 - One large parsnip
 - One large carrot
 - One chicken breast
 - One cup of sweet peas
 - Eight baby dill pickles
 - Two pickled bell peppers (if you can't find those, use fire-roasted peppers kept in lemon juice or vinegar for one hour)
 - One-two cups of mayonnaise
 - Three boiled eggs
 - Spices: salt, pepper
 - For presentation: two boiled eggs, mayonnaise, olives, extra pickles, fresh parsley

 - Boil the eggs, including the ones to be used for presentation (make sure the yolks are firm).
 - Boil the chicken breast for about an hour in a large pot, together with the peeled potatoes, parsnip, sweet peas, and carrot. Periodically remove the foam that forms on top of the boiling soup. You may want to start checking with a knife about 45 minutes in, and remove the pot from heat once a knife starts to easily slide through the largest potato.
 - Remove from heat and drain. You may want to save the water and use it for a soup.
 - Carefully dice the boiled vegetables, the chicken, and the pickles. You want all pieces to have about the same size - aim for something slightly slightly bigger than a pea. Place everything in a large bowl.
 - Take three of the boiled eggs, cut them in two, and separately the yellows. Dice the egg whites, and add to the other diced ingredients.
 - Add the spices, to taste. Be careful with the salt - the pickles are already fairly salty.
 - Finally, you want to add as little mayonnaise as possible, but make sure that the whole dish stays together. You may want to add a few spoons of mayonnaise, mix everything together, check the overall consistency, and repeat if not yet ready.

 - The Boeuf Salad has a fairly thick consistency, so you can play a bit with the shape. I've often seen it in a hemispherical form (think of half of a football ball).
 - Next, I've always seen the salad covered with a thin layer of yellow mayonnaise (it's yellow because that's the color of fresh natural homemade mayonnaise). If you don't want to go through the trouble of preparing the mayonnaise in-house, then choose the best commercially-available mayonnaise, and mix it with the yolks of the three eggs used in the salad - that usually does the trick (visually, at least).
 - Finally, use slices of boiled eggs, olives, pickles, or fresh parsley, to finish the presentation.