Old World Tuesday: Bitki in Sour Cream

March 29, 2010 § 2 Comments

I didn’t actually grow up with this – I got this recipe from The Russian Heritage Cookbook – an impressively comprehensive volume on the foods of the Russian emigres in the United States. It was one of the first cookbooks I bought for myself when I came here.


Bitki are essentially small meatballs that you brown and then cook briefly in a sour-cream based sauce. Since these are definitely close relatives of the Swedish meatballs, I like to serve them with noodles.


Soak a slice of white bread, crusts removed, in milk for about 10 min.


Next, chop some onions relatively fine.


Melt some butter in a skillet (cast iron is my favorite) over medium-high heat, add the onions to the skillet, and saute until lightly browned.


Add the onions and the bread (with some milk) to a pound of ground beef, along with some minced parsley, dill (dried dill is what I used), salt, and pepper.


Blend well, and shape the mixture into small patties like these (you see, these are not actually meatballs, because they are oval rather than round, and each patty is flattened to have two distinctive sides). But really, don’t think about it too much. Just shape them into little thingies.


Now melt some more (what else) butter in another skillet over medium-high heat until the butter has begun to brown.


Add the patties…


And brown well on both sides. Lower the heat to medium for the second side. Remove to a casserole dish.

I like mine with a little bit of burn. Seriously, I do.


Now we’re gonna make the sauce. Take roughly 1 1/2 C of sour cream,


Add to it 2 T of flour,


And some milk (I would say around 1/2 to 3/4 C, depending on how thin you like it). Blend well with a whisk or a fork or something of the kind.


Pour over the meatballs, and place in a 300-degree oven for 15 min or until heated through.


Now boil some noodles according to the package instructions. Unless you are using this kind. Don’t cook them for the specified 4 min. Cook them for a good 9-10, if, like me, you like your pasta nice and soft. But it’s up to you.

These, by the way, are wonderful $4/lb hippie egg noodles from the food co-op. They are double the price of what I normally buy (also at the co-op), but they have a great body and texture and are a lot like homemade. I hate to say that they are kinda sorta worth it.


Now because I paid the said whopping sum for them, I felt like I should get my money’s worth, from the eating standpoint and otherwise, so I indulged in some noodle photography. You see, I am particularly fascinated with shooting uncooked dough and, in this case, noodles.


Such texture, such drama!


In the meantime, I boiled some of my frozen corn from two years ago, which had kept beautifully in the freezer, to serve with my noodles.


And voila!

Bitki in Sour Cream

Adapted from The Russian Heritage Cookbook by Lynn Visson.


  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 T minced parsley
  • fresh or dried dill
  • 1 slice of white bread, crusts removed, soaked in milk
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • 1.5 C sour cream
  • 1/2 to 3/4 C milk
  • 2 T flour

Saute the onion in butter over medium-high heat until slightly browned. Add to the beef, along with the bread and some of its soaking milk, parsley, dill, salt, and pepper. Blend well and shape into small patties, about 1″ to 1 1/2″ in length. Brown the patties in butter over medium high heat, until well browned on the bottom, then flip, lower the heat to medium, and brown on the other side. You will have to do this in two batches. Remove to an oven-proof casserole dish.

Whisk together all of the ingredients for the sauce. Pour over the meatballs and cook in 300-degree oven for 15 min. Serve with wide egg noodles.

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