Cooking At Home: Beef Borscht

"The way to a man's heart is through his stomach", while many may not agree with this saying, I find this to be totally the case with my husband. When I serve a breakfast, lunch or dinner that he absolutely loves I get more kisses and hugs, funny enough the kisses and hugs usually come after the meal. Payment must be made I suppose. As Husband Borscht is Russian (as if you already didn't know by the little pet-name I've given him) he does get homesick for Russian food, which is why I have mastered the art of borscht-making! Granted I've never had true borscht, ever, according to Husband Borscht my borscht can give babushka a run for her money, even though most babushkas don't make very good runners.

From what I understand borscht is something that is usually made in large quantities. Perhaps this is due to the fact that borscht while fairly simple to make requires many steps and is actually a long process, although it doesn't take all night it can take up a good part of your day. And/or second, because borscht can last several days in your refrigerator only getting better flavor as it sits, which means... not having to worry about dinner for a few days!

So if you're feeling up for it, look below!

INGREDIENTS (for 10-12 servings):
2 Lbs. beef shank (bone-in) <You can also use 2lbs of lean stewing beef but I find that the beef shank gives more flavor to the broth and the overall borscht

3 Lbs. of red beets, tops removed, scrubbed and trimmed <borscht is primarily made of beets so remember to try and pick the best red beets for

Vegetable oil for coating the red beets

4 Strips of bacon

12 Cups of shredded green cabbage <I opted to go the easy way and bought bags of pre-shredded green cabbage, this will save loads of time and energy!

2 Russet potatoes, medium diced

2 Medium yellow onions, small or medium diced

2 Lg carrots, shredded or small diced

4 Teaspoons of dill seed

4 Teaspoons of dried oregano

2 Teaspoons of kosher salt

2 Teaspoons of freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon of whole peppercorn

6 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar

2 6-oz cans of tomato paste (or 1 12-oz can)

2 Tablespoons of minced garlic

4 Fresh bay leaves (or 2 dried bay leaves)

4 Quarts of water

1 Cup of  fresh dill, roughly chopped

Sour cream

1. Rub the beets with vegetable oil and roast in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 1.5 to 2 hours (until the beets are tender). Once roasted allow the beets to cool down so that they are easier to handle. Once cooled, peel the beets by slipping off the skin with your fingers (or you can also use a speed-peeler). Once the beets are peeled, shred the beets.

2. Preheat a large stock pot on medium heat and fry up the strips of bacon to render the fat. Once the fat is rendered remove the bacon, the bacon can be discarded after this point.

3. Brown the beef shank on all sides in the stockpot with the bacon fat. Once the beef shanks are browned, remove them from the pot with tongs or a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. Add the shredded carrots and diced onions to the stockpot and stir occasionally while they soften (about 5-minutes). The carrots and onions do not need to be completely soft, they will cook to softness during the  long simmering process later.

5. Add the minced garlic, oregano, dill seed, bay leaves, salt and pepper to the vegetables and stir to mix. Allow to cook for about 1-minutes.

6. Add the red wine vinegar and deglaze the pan, scraping up all bits stuck to the bottom of the stockpot as well.

7. Add the tomato paste and stir to mix and combine all the ingredients.

8. Add the peppercorn and browned beef shank back into the stockpot and cover with 4-quarts of water. Stir to combine all the ingredients and allow the stew to come to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 2-hours with the stockpot half covered. Check the stew occasionally and skim any foam that collects at the top of the stew.

9. At the end of the 2-hour simmering process the beef should fall off the bone. Use tongs or a slotted spoon to pick the beef and bones out of the stew. Discard the bones and cut the beef into bite-size pieces. Put the cut-up beef back into the stew.

10. Add the potatoes, shredded beets and cabbage into the stew. Mix to combine and allow the stew to come to a simmer again, allow it to simmer for another 30-minutes in order to cook the potatoes and cook down the cabbage.

11. At the end of the 30-minutes check your stew. Do a taste-test, add a bit more salt, pepper and red wine vinegar if needed. Add a bit more water if needed- sometimes I find that the stew is too thick and at this point I will add more water if needed. If adding more water continue to simmer for another 15-30 minutes.

Serve the borscht with chopped fresh dill and sour cream if you wish! Husband Borscht also likes to add fresh thinly sliced garlic cloves into his borscht as well- he loves the bite, if you love the bite then you should try this as well.

Remember that the borscht will be only become more flavorful the next day and the day after that. Enjoy!

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