How Russian chefs interpret foreign cuisine: Potato-dough pizza

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We spoke with chef Viktor Beley, who knows all about using a Russian stove in a modern restaurant. He shared with us a recipe for his own special pizza.

Viktor Beley cooks for the top tables at summits of Russian and world leaders. Under his belt, besides a lot of food, he has over a decade’s experience working in restaurants in Moscow, plus several stints overseas. Recently he was selected to represent Russia in the European stage of the prestigious Bocuse d’Or 2019 word chef championship.

Stewed lamb with carrot sauce

Viktor’s choice of profession was no accident — his father and elder brother also work as chefs. Although they tried to dissuade him from a culinary career after he was expelled from military academy, Viktor had already resolved to sign up for cookery school. Now he is the brand chef of the Uhvat restaurant in central Moscow. The heart of the establishment is the open furnace used for cooking traditional Russian fare in a very fashionable way.

What stove-baked dishes is Uhvat famous for?

Siberian dumplings

This candle-shaped bread with ghee is made in the stove, as well as schi (sauerkraut soup), borsch, pelmeni (dumplings), stewed goat and lamb, and baked sterlet in black salt.

How did you get into stove cooking?

Millet porridge with pumpkin

I grew up in a house with a stove, and would watch how my grandma cooked in it. As a chef myself, I apply that experience together with new techniques.

How does a Russian stove differ from foreign ones? And why do you need three of them?

Three stoves are just right. In one we bake bread in the morning, in another we fry meat, stew dishes, and heat up porridges, and the third we use at night for slow cooking. For example, varenets (thick sour milk) takes three days to prepare.

Unlike Italian stoves, which operate at 350-400 С, our oven works at lower temperatures — in the range of 200-300 С, which means that the products retain their healthy properties and rich taste to the full. 

Recipe for pizza with crab meat and cherry tomatoes

Dough ingredients (for 7 flatbreads):

  • Milk – 100 ml
  • Dry yeast – 8 g
  • Sugar – 40 g
  • Flour – 350 g
  • Chicken eggs, yolk – 1 pc.
  • Salt – 6 g
  • Potato purée – 270 g
  • Fried onions – 10 g

Topping ingredients:

  • Sauce – 30 g
  • Avocado – 1/3 pc.
  • Crab meat – 30 g
  • Olive oil – 7 g
  • Salt, pepper to taste

Recipe:

1. Knead the dough and add potato purée made from chilled baked potatoes with fried onions. Let the dough stand in a cool place. Next, divide the dough into portions and roll into round flatbreads. 100 g of dough per flatbread is enough.

2. Shape each flatbread and bake until crisp at a temperature of 180C.

3. Add mayonnaise-based sauce with hot doubanjiang paste made from chili or ajika.

4. On top of the paste, spread mashed avocado, crab meat, sliced cherry tomatoes, and greens.

Chef’s compliment: flatbread with vegetables

Flatbread with vegetables can be prepared on the same basis. To do so, bake vegetables (150 g) in the oven until cooked. Almost any will do. One of the chef’s favorite combinations is baked eggplant with tomato and Bulgarian pepper. Finely chop the cooked vegetables, add greens (for example, cilantro), and season with olive oil. Lay everything on the flatbread.

Read more: How Russian chefs interpret foreign cuisine: English pie à la Stroganoff

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