Boeuf salad is a traditional Romanian dish that we love to eat during winter, and especially during Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Its name is of French origin, boeuf meaning beef, even though it clearly resembles the Russian, or Olivier type of salad. Boeuf salad is a combination of chopped meat, boiled vegetables and muraturi, which are pickled vegetables, usually cucumbers, all smothered in mayonnaise.
Romanians usually prepare this salad for the winter holidays, and sometimes during Easter, but in my family, we like to make it several times a year. My mom always prepares homemade mayonnaise, but if you aren’t so keen about making the mayo yourself, you can choose to buy one. Make sure that the one you buy is of good quality. We also use homemade pickles, but you can also buy a jar of pickled cucumbers, just make sure they taste good.
The best part of making a boeuf salad is clearly decorating it! We use egg slices, pickled cucumbers, pickled sweet peppers, olives, boiled carrots and parsley to decorate the top of the salad. When I lived at my parents’ house, this is what my mom made me do when we prepared this salad together, and I always enjoyed every minute of this task. I had plenty of time to learn, and now I make this salad for my parents, when they come visit us for Christmas.
If you want to reduce the number of calories in boeuf salad, you can opt for a light mayonnaise, and substitute the beef with chicken breast or turkey breast, it will still taste just as great. The Romanian boeuf salad can be served as a main dish itself, or as a starter/appetizer. After you prepare the salad, make sure you chill it for at least two hours, so that all the ingredients set.
Tip: A great tip that my future mother-in-law gave me is adding an apple to the boeuf salad. The apple gives it a sweeter taste, and somehow enriches the salad’s flavor. Make sure that you finely chop the apple, as well as all the other ingredients. I always do this by hand, but I think using a food processor could also work.
500 g (1 lb.) beef or chicken/turkey breast
4 medium potatoes
8 pickled cucumbers
1 medium apple of your choice
500 g (2 cups) mayonnaise
2 hard-boiled eggs
a few sliced olives
- Boil the meat until it’s cooked. If you use beef, it might take up to 3 hours. If you use chicken or turkey breast, 1 hour should be enough. Take the meat out and let it cool completely.
- Boil the potatoes with their skin on. Separately, boil the carrots until you can stick a fork in them. Make sure you don’t overcook the vegetables, as it will be harder to chop them. Let the vegetables cool completely, and peel the potatoes.
- Finely chop the meat, the carrots, the potatoes, the pickled cucumbers and the apple. Put them in a large bowl, and add the mayonnaise. Season with salt and pepper, then mix everything using two spoons.
- Smooth out the top of the salad and add some extra mayonnaise on top.
- Decorate with anything you like: sliced pickled cucumbers, olives, egg slices, boiled carrot slices, parsley.
- Chill for at least 2-3 hours before serving.