I was never a big fan of the beef stew from my childhood. I found it boring. The frozen, mixed vegetables that were added always ended up mushy and gray by the time the stew was served. Because of my adverse experience with beef stew, my mind was blown the first time I had borscht at a restaurant specializing in Russian cuisine. When I thought Russian food, I thought white, colorless, and bland: potato, perogi, cabbage. This stew was anything but. It was hearty, yet fresh and full of color and taste. The flavors mingled in a way I didn’t expect. It was a delightful flavor explosion. A stew that was definitely a meal, but not heavy. Ever since, it’s been a favorite of mine.
Borscht is a simple beef stew that’s cooked with beets, carrots, and potatoes. I add cabbage at the end of cooking so that it does’t turn to mush, as I like the little textural difference in my stew. I’ve even used sauerkraut in place of cabbage, which is also a really lovely addition. It adds a crunchy, tart element that pairs so nicely with the sweetness of the beets. My favorite part of making borscht is adding the fresh dill at the very end. The bright green against the red stained beets is just beautiful, and the dill adds something so distinctive and fresh to the dish that, in my view, it can’t be eaten without it.
In the past few years, I’ve also become fond of adding chickpeas. I started doing this when a friend told me her mom always added them to their Ukrainian-style borscht.
Traditionally, Borscht is made by slowly cooking beef shanks. As they cook, the meat becomes fork tender, and the bones and marrow of the shank make a rich stock. Since shanks can be hard to find and don’t yield a lot of meat, I usually use a roast and pair it with a rich homemade stock.
Once you taste this stew, you realize why it is a Russian staple. In a cold country where little with color grows, the radiant red soup is bursting with flavor and nutrition. If you haven’t tried it, I highly encourage you to give it a go. You just might decide it’s your favorite beef stew.
- 2-4 lbs of beef roast cut into cubes
- 2-4 beets
- 3 potatoes
- 5 carrots
- 1 qt beef stock (homemade best)
- fresh dill
- chickpeas (optional)
- sour cream (as topping)
- Finley chop the onion and garlic. Then, chop the carrots, beets and potatoes into large chunks. These will cook with our meat. The larger the pieces, the slower they will cook. If we were to chop them too small, they would be very soft when finished. So proceed at your own preference here. Personally, I like large chunks for vegetables because this is a very rustic stew. I cut my carrots into about 2-3 inches segments and my potatoes into large pieces as well.
- Once you have your meat and vegetables added to the pot, then pour in your beef broth. I prefer homemade (and since it’s so easy to make in the Instant Pot, I usually have some on hand). If you decide to purchase yours, get a high quality bone broth, as this is really what adds the flavor to the dish. Now that the meat, root vegetables and stock are in the pot, add about 2 tbs of sea salt and cook under pressure for 15 mins (if adding dried chickpeas, do so now).
- While this cooks, slice the cabbage. If you’re adding canned beans to your stew, rinse them and set aside.
- You can also prepare your dill garnish by mincing the herb finely.
- Once the 15 mins cooking time is up, instantly release the pressure. Take off the lid and add the cabbage (and canned beans if using). Put the lid back on and cook for 2 mins. When done, instantly release pressure.
- Next, you will stir in your minced dill and just let it sit in the hot stew. The heat will gently cook the dill and help the flavor permeate the stew.
- You can serve immediately or allow the stew to cool for a while. When serving, add a large dollop of high quality sour cream. The beet sour cream mixture is so classic and lovely. If you wanted to add the sauerkraut as I mentioned above, I would do it now in order to preserve the probiotic benefits. As well as being gut friendly, it adds some crunch and flavor that is a really nice addition.
© 2020 This recipe is prepared by Bonvivantfoodandwine.com