Monday, September 27, 2010


I recently made Borscht. It was the first time in forever, like over 8 years ago forever and it was so well received this time around by friends and family that I'm wondering what took me so long.
My friend who lived in Russia for some time says that this is a German Borscht, the Russians and Romanians don't add beets. I am a huge fan of beets, my favorite way to eat them is with a splash of lemon juice. I love the earthy aroma that fills the house when they're simmering. It's like nothing else.
I know that borscht can be eaten cold, but our house prefers it hot with the play of cold sour cream.
Like most of my cooking, I tend to make a lot but the recipe can easily be parred down. Honestly though, since it's a two day process I'd make a lot and freeze some for no brainer meals down the road.

What you'll need for the Borscht
A really big stew pot or two medium ones
8 cans beef broth
1 to 1 1/2 quarts water
3-4 lbs bone in beef shank Why so much you ask? Because it's a very fatty and once you get rid of the fat you've not a lot of meat left. Yes you could use a leaner cut but the fat and the bone imparts an excellent flavor so just go with it.
3 medium onions finely chopped
3 cups of cooked beets chopped
2 lbs carrots (I use baby carrots for simplicity sake)
4 lbs red potatoes cut to about 1 inch bites
1 small head cabbage shredded
1 cup Red wine
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
Fresh Dill (the little container you get at the store) chopped with some sprigs reserved (optional)
Beef bullion cube (optional)
Salt & pepper
Sour Cream

First things first, sear the meat in a frying pan making sure the outer surface is nicely carmelized and brown. Remove the meat to your stew pot and deglaze the frying pan with the red wine (you can use the beef broth but I highly recommend the wine), once that is done pour the wine into the stew pot along with 4 cans of the beef broth. Set this to simmer as low as possible for about 4-6 hours. This will make sure your meat is amazingly tender and flavorful. Once it's simmered, remove all the meat from the stock, cover both and set to refrigerate overnight.
The next day take your meat and trim off all of the fat and gristle and chop into about inch size bites. Next skim off all the fat from the stock and don't be surprised if the stock is gelatinous, this is a good thing.
Place the stock back on the stove at medium heat, add the remaining four cans of broth about half the water, the meat, carrots, onions, and potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and let cook until the root vegetables are almost but not quite done. Add the beets, cabbage, the red wine vinegar and about 1/2 of the dill, we want to error on the side of caution, we want to taste the dill but we don't want our borscht to taste like a dill pickle, we can add more later if we like.
Now, your broth should be hearty but not terribly thick and there should be plenty of it so add enough water to cover your solids with about an inch of broth, from there refine the salt and pepper add a bullion cube if needed and let simmer until the cabbage is almost tender (don't let it get mushy, that's just gross!)
Your borscht is done!
Dish it up, add a dollop of sour cream and garnish with dill if desired. Serve with a nice rustic bread for a wonderfully hearty and delicious meal.

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