Zharkoe

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Posted: Friday, June 21, 2019 6:13 am

About a year ago, the hubby and I started watching a series called “The Americans,” which featured a husband-and-wife duo of Russian spies.

The series was interesting to watch not only because of the drama and suspense, but also to see the amazing transformations of the spies in disguise. (Spoiler alert: Russian spies have amazing wigs.)

And it was interesting to watch from a historical standpoint; the hubby and I both grew up in the ’80s, when the series takes place, but we were too young to really understand the global implications of some of the events that occurred.

But we do clearly recall the décor and clothing of the ’80s, which the set designers hit spot-on, down to the Tupperware that my mom had when I was a kid.

We finished watching the series a few weeks ago, and were watching one of the final episodes one evening when we’d had an early, light supper. One of the spies was at the home of her handler, who was making zharkoye, which is basically a Russian beef and potato stew (“peasant food,” they called it).

It was a chilly night, nearing 10 p.m. and we hadn’t eaten in five hours. The zharkoye looked tempting.

“That looks like the best thing in the world right now,” the hubby muttered. “We should make that.”

We didn’t drop everything and concoct a stew just then, but we did find a recipe we wanted to try – although the version we settled on was zharkoe, a Ukranian spin on the dish that has a little tomato in the broth and a few more seasonings.

The result is sort of like a cross between traditional beef strew and Hungarian goulash or paprikash. The broth has a ton of flavor using relatively few spices – salt, pepper, smoked paprika and cumin.

And what did the family think of their peasant fare?

The hubby said, “At age 44, it seems like there are very few flavors we haven’t yet tried. But I’ve never tasted anything quite like that.”

“In a good way?” I asked.

He showed me his plate, nearly licked clean.

He’s a good peasant.

Note: You also can simmer the dish on the stovetop, but increase the water to 2 cups.

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