What might be some Russian main dishes that can be frozen?
April 7, 2016 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a character: I have a descendant of Russian immigrants who lives close to Brighton Beach and who makes food on the weekends and freezes the meals to be consumed during the week by her and her daughter. What kinds of possible dishes might she be making on the weekends?

Again, asking for fictional purposes.

posted by angrycat to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Pierogies freeze very well.
posted by Captain_Science at 12:59 PM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Pelmeni dumplings to be eaten in soup, or with sour cream and onions.
Stuffed Cabbage

In fact, just peruse Natasha's Kitchen for ideas.

My cousin and I tease each other about our ancestry as we're Ashkenazi Jews and some of our family left after the Pogroms in the early 20th century, and half of her ancestors were Czech and left after being released from Concentration Camps. She says we're all Czech, I say we're Ukrainian. In truth, we never moved, the borders did.

Basically, the food is the same.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:00 PM on April 7, 2016 [8 favorites]

The woman behind OIga's Flavor Factory is another food blogger of Russian descent, and she has a whole section dedicated to freezer-friendly recipes. Some of the recipes are American, but there are some good Russian recipes in that list, too. A search of her website also brings up many soup recipes that I'd consider freezer-friendly.
posted by PearlRose at 1:09 PM on April 7, 2016 [4 favorites]

Does it have to be frozen?

I grew up in a Russian speaking household, and my mom would routinely make very large pots of soup that the family would eat for days afterward. My impression is that this was a very normal/common part of Russian housekeeping. The soups would be refrigerated overnight, and it was universally 'known' that the flavour of the soup improved with time.

Examples of popular russian soups include borscht, ukha, rasolnik, kharcho, and schi.
posted by kickingtheground at 1:26 PM on April 7, 2016 [5 favorites]

Seconding giant pots of soup. Freeze some and refrigerate some, keep adding little things. I've got Russian Polish /Uzbek) immigrant New York family and this would be the thing. If it was just a week though, depending on the time period, you wouldn't even be freezing, just refrigerating.
posted by jessamyn at 2:00 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

Hi, immigrant from Russia in Brooklyn and I grew up with a single mom, not in Brighton but essentially walking distance.

As everyone mentioned, freezing generally isn't a thing. You make a large amount of soup, stew, boiled potatoes, etc. and it goes it the fridge and you eat it until you don't have anymore. Generally the only time we ever ate frozen food it was either American stuff or specifically pelmeni which are sold frozen. We also never had frozen vegetables because this part of Brooklyn is replete with fresh vegetable stands. My mother found a few non-Russian recipes that suited this well: baked ziti, puerto rican rice and beans and made them as well because it was a familiar way to keep food.

Keep in mind what a lot of Russian immigrants in Brooklyn do, especially working ones, is buy homestyle food by the pound at Russian stores. There's many of these in any neighborhood that have large Russian populations. I shop at one nearby because, for instance, my mom knew how to make an enormous batch of Olivier salad, I don't, so I just buy it at the nearby Russian store. The food is generally made in the back of the store, usually fresh ("is this today's?" is a common question.)

There was a good list of soups mentioned above, but soup is generally only a part of a meal (I have never known Russian emigres to eat soup as a meal.) There's a beef-and-potatoes stew called zharkoe that was a family staple. Other things that are made in batches are frikadeller (called "frikadelki"), fried cutlets of various sorts, and rice pilaf (called "plov.")

Keep in mind that what particular Russians cook will depend on where they came from and their ethnic origins. There's obviously a lot of intermixing but, for instance, I had a friend who emigrated from Moscow but was of Jewish-Georgian extraction and her family had food (e.g. khachapuri) that my family never ate.

Finally, without a slice of bread it is not considered a meal, and Russian people generally do not eat American bread. There are dozens of small bakeries around Brooklyn that supply Russian stores with fresh bread.
posted by griphus at 2:23 PM on April 7, 2016 [17 favorites]

Thank you all for the answers! I am very grateful and very hungry!
posted by angrycat at 2:28 PM on April 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I grew up in a city full of Ukrainians, and my freezer is never without borscht. Ever.
posted by Kreiger at 2:57 PM on April 7, 2016

nthing Griphus, it wouldn't have to be frozen. I think Stuffed Cabbage stays in the fridge for a fortnight.

My local Farmer's Market which bafflingly has a HUGE Eastern European section has one aisle in the frozen section devoted to Pelmeni. (I like mine in chicken broth with lots of dill.)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 3:14 PM on April 7, 2016

Agreeing with above that frozen wouldn't be a thing and that it is incredibly common for Russian markets (everywhere I have lived in the US) to be 1/2 supermarket and 1/2 deli-esque with the ability to get "homemade" (at the shop) food in small or large quantities. One of the Russian markets here in Seattle even added a dining-in area. But for the most part people buy this sort of stuff fresh.

But in this fictional story you're describing -- well, it would seem to me that Mom would cook a shit ton every ~3-4 days to last for the next few days. And it would be quite normal for her to do so even after working an exceptionally long work day.
posted by k8t at 5:58 PM on April 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

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