Tuesday, January 22, 2008

[Soup] Olga's Borscht

Yup. Not even a week in and already I'm posting non-baking, non-sql recipes. Trust me, this one's worth it. If you're good I'll also post the recipes for Vareniki and Perushky, which _do_ involve flour.

But here's my Baba's borscht recipe. This is not the vinegar style. Every person who's had it has enjoyed it, so I know it's not some weird cultural thing. Southerners have Chicken Fried Steak for comfort food - this is mine.

Olga's Borscht
Meat: purchase both bone-in (1.5lb) and boneless (1 lb) beef short ribs. (probably choice, but I don't think it matters). However, make sure it's not too fatty.
The boneless provides the meat, but you really need the bone to add substance.
3 Beets, fresh. If you wind up with light-colored ones, don't cook as long.
1 leek
1 head cabbage
7 medium potatoes
3 stalks celery
4 big carrots
1 medium onion
1 green bell pepper

Cover beef with water in medium-large cookpot. Heat on med high. Let boil one minute then pour out. This gets rid of the "crud". Clean bowl, rinse off meat, then stick back in pot.

Peel beets, slice fairly thin (think thick potato chips) then into strips. Let sit in cold water for a few minutes, then pour out. Do this a few times. You're trying to get some of the red out.

Add water to meat (more than covering, probably 2/3 of pot - remember that this determines how much broth there is, but also that it will have to hold all the veggies), along with one onion (whole but "skinned") and beets. Simmer for 75-90 minutes (until a knife no longer holds onto a piece). Remove onion. (Use slotted spoon as the onion will fall apart). The soup will have acquired a reddish hue, and the beets should be pink instead of red, and possibly whiter than that.

Chill overnight to make it easy to skim the fat, as well as enhance the flavor.

Day 2:
Skim fat.

Remove meat.

Cut bell pepper in half, deseed, and add to pot.

Peel and chop four big carrots (cut end in half then slice - you want small pieces).

Add to pot, set on medium high (we need to get it to a boil so it can simmer with the vegetables)

Chop three stalks of celery (split in 3 to ensure small pieces) - add to pot.

Clean leek well, cut into quarters, then chop very fine. As you get to the end of the white, remove the outer leaves, since there's still some white to be had on the outer leaves, whereas the inner ones will already be brown.

Set pot to medium low to simmer for a while - you want to get all the vegetables cooked. Also important as the flavors are mixing from all the vegetables.

Peel seven medium potatoes - after peeled, soak in a separate bowl of water, to keep them from browning.

Cut meat into small, bite-sized bits, removing the excess fat and bones. You won't be able to get much meat off the bone-in.

Cut potatoes into small pieces (half, then strips, then dice)

Turn up heat to high then add potatoes and remove the green pepper. Leave on high until boiling then turn down.

Add 2 knorr vegetable buillion cubes

Slice cabbage in half along core, then again into quarters. Shred by cutting perpendicular to first cut, but cut around core (we don't want core). Cut strips in half - don't want them too long.

Check potatoes for doneness - this will only take a few minutes, since the pieces are so small.

Crank heat so that it's boiling again. High, since it has to recover from....
Add cabbage (about 1/2 cabbage) and beef

Add 1-2 beef bouillon cubes, crushing up then adding. If you need more salt, add more cubes.

Add 1 15oz can of tomato sauce (you can add more if the tomato sauce is watery, but that should be rare)

Cabbage boils for one minute, no more.

Remove from heat. Add 1-2 teaspoons of dill (optional). Serve with Sour Cream (optional).

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