Culture Palate: Dishes from Ukraine
Delicious sausages are a key ingredient of many Ukrainian dishes. The most popular type is kovbasa, which is smoked sausage made with pork meat and fat, flavored with garlic, salt, and pepper. It used to be more common to see kovbasa made at home, but now most Ukrainians purchase them from a butcher or a local grocery store. Many people call all Ukrainian sausages kovbasa regardless of whether they include pork, but pork is by far the most common type of kovbasa available.
It’s often eaten plain (it doesn’t need to be cooked since it’s already smoked) but can also be fried and eaten alongside varenyky or in yayechnia z kovbosoyu i yarnoyu, which is kovbasa and scrambled eggs with red peppers.
Varenyky are considered one of Ukraine’s national dishes, and there are so many different types that you could eat varenyky with a different filling every day for months and never run out of options. Also called pyrohy or pierogi, varenyky are delicious dumplings that are boiled then fried or baked and served with butter, sour cream, and garnished with a variety of toppings.
There are both savory and sweet varenyky, made with fillings like potato, sauerkraut, meat, cheese, and fruit. Typically, savory varenyky are served with sour cream, fried onions, and sliced mushrooms or kovbasa. Sweet varenyky are plated up with sugar, honey, sour cream, or jam.
Although the thought of gelatin makes most Americans think of technicolor Jell-O, in Ukraine, this naturally-occurring ingredient is most frequently used to make kholodets, meat in aspic.
To make kholodets, chefs must boil pig’s feet for several hours in order to render out the gelatin, which makes the resulting soup hold its shape once it’s cool. The soup is then poured into a container that already holds vegetables and meat, and chilled until can be upended on to a serving platter. Ukrainian chefs can show off their skills and creativity with kholodets as it can be made with anything from pork to chicken, then served with mustard or horseradish.