The Great Russian Thanksgiving

The Great Russian Thanksgiving

November 22, 2010  |  By Moscow Ballet

Bring Russian Tastes into Your Holidays with These Traditional Recipes

Bring Russian Tastes into Your Holidays with These Traditional Recipes

Moscow Ballet’s dancers are, like most dancers, good eaters! While on the road they enjoy everything from Chinese buffets (no translation issues with this option!) to catered parties after the performances. But this week is Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday, so we asked our dancers what they would recommend for a righteous “Russian Thanksgiving” spread! Here are three favorites…

Appetizer: Herring Under a Fur Coat
Ballet Master Andre Litvinov recommends this immensely popular dish as the perfect appetizer. Serve with chilled white wine and enjoy!

Herring Under a Fur Coat

• 2 skinless herring filets
• 2 medium-sized beets
• 2 potatoes
• 2 carrots
• 1 onion
• 3 eggs
• 1.5 cups mayonnaise
• Salt
• Black pepper

1. Boil eggs until hard.
2. Boil carrots, potatoes and beets.
3. Peel onion, and then steep in boiling water. After 5 minutes, pour into a strainer and hold onion under cold water for 1 minute.
4. Let boiled vegetables cool. Clean potatoes and carrots and grate into separate bowls.
5. Grate beets in a separate bowl.
6. Clean and grate eggs.
7. Chop herring into small pieces and add pepper.
8. On a large plate, spread out a layer of grated potatoes, salt and cover with a layer of mayonnaise. Add a layer of herring, then onions, carrots and eggs, salting each layer and topping it with a coating of mayonnaise. Repeat the process, without herring, until you have at least two layers.
9. Cover everything with a layer of grated beets, on top of which you spread a thick coating of mayonnaise. A final layer of grated egg yolk can be added for decoration.
10. Refrigerate for 5 hours and serve in slices, like a cake.

*This herring recipe was featured in a segment on CBC Calgary radio in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) Nov. 16. Crediting Moscow Ballet for posting the recipe on its website, the station’s Food and Nutrition Guide, Julie Van Rosendaal, discusses (and raves about) this and other traditional Russian foods.

Main Course: Braised Pheasant with Sauerkraut
Moscow Ballet Soloist and Audition Teacher Tatiana Casian shares her favorite poultry dish. This dish is simple to prepare, uses ingredients that most of us have in the kitchen and is a quick cooker, too. But the real proof is in the tasting! This is a perfect dish for an intimate dinner, followed by a night at the Great Russian Nutcracker!

Braised Pheasant with Sauerkraut

• 1 pheasant
• 2 lbs sauerkraut
• 1 onion, thinly sliced
• 1 cup chicken broth
• 2 Tbsp butter
• 2 Tbsp oil
• 1 tsp each: salt, ground pepper, paprika, fresh tarragon, fresh thyme

1. Heat oil in a heavy skillet and brown the pheasant on all sides.
2. Place the pheasant in a braising pan.
3. Remove the oil from the skillet and melt the butter.
4. Saute the onion and add the sauerkraut.
5. Season with salt, pepper, sweet paprika and tarragon. Add to the pheasant in the braising pan.
6. Pour the chicken broth and cook for 45 minutes or until the pheasant is tender.

Dessert: Pavlova

Masha, known to her family and friends as Alexandra Elagina, makes this sweet and tart dessert dish. It does take a little more attention than other recipes – but it is all worth it! “Pavlova,” (is this named after the sweet and legendary prima ballerina Anna Pavlova by any chance?) is a meringue with berry filling and whipped cream topping to die for!

After the ballet bring your friends home to this fabulous Russian dish and some good sherry for a Great Russian Nutcracker nightcap!



• 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar OR 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar or distilled white vinegar
• 1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
• 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
• 3/4 cup (6 ounces, about 6) large egg whites, preferably room temperature
• Pinch of salt

• 2 pints fresh or frozen berries
• 1/4 cup sugar
• Whipped Cream for topping


1. Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the vanilla and vinegar (if using) into a small cup. Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.
2. In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar (if using) and salt, starting on low, increasing incrementally to medium speed until soft peaks/trails start to become visible, and the egg white bubbles are very small and uniform, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla and vinegar (if you didn’t use cream of tartar.) Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.
4. Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon liner. With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.
5. Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white—not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees and turn pan around.
6. Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.
7. Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature, or individually wrapped, for up to a week if your house is not humid.

Heat pints of fresh or frozen berries in a medium saucepan with about a quarter-cup of sugar. Heat on medium heat, stirring once or twice, for about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much the berries are falling apart. Remove from heat and let cool.

*Makes 8-10 Pavlovas