Friday, 28 January 2011

Because You Could Live Off Borscht

I really do think that, with this recipe at least, one could live off Borscht for quite a long time. It has all the protein, fat, fibre and vitamins a body could need! Ok, don't quote me on that. I have only a vague idea of what constitutes a balanced, nutritious diet, but I still think that if all you had to eat was this Borscht, you'd be doing pretty well.

Now, unlike the previous recipes I've put up here in some premature, experimental state, this one is tried, tested and true. Seriously, I eat this all the time and I've yet to get sick of it. It also changes a bit each time I make it, based on what I have or what I forgot, so you get more of a general guide line than a proper recipe. But that's ok. Vague recipes are a Mennonite tradition, and this one comes down the line from the Mennonite side of my family. And again, mine is probably a little different than my mom's, and hers is different from my grandma's.

I start by making a nice beef stock by boiling soup bones in a big pot of water. And I mean a big pot, not the sauce pan that you can get away with for a pack of KD or a can of soup. Look for soup bones that have some meat on them; you'll want to add that meat later. The process here is pretty simple. Put soup bones in the pot, fill at least half-way with water, set it to boil, and simmer with the lid on for a few hours or "until ready."

Now you take it off the heat, remove the soup bones and set them aside. If you've got time to let the broth sit and cool for a while, do that. Even better if you can leave it in the fridge over night, as that makes it particularly easy to skim the fat off the top(seriously, when chilled in the fridge, I can just grab the solid chunks off the top with a pair of tongs.) Otherwise, use a spoon to skim off the fat and put it in whatever grease collecting container you use for disposal or whatever. I mean, if you want you can always make soap out of it later.

Once you have your broth, put about five to eight(or, you know, however many you like) black peppercorns and a bay leaf in a spice ball and drop it in, adding a generous sprinkling of dill to the broth while you're at it. Start it a-boiling and a-simmering again while you chop and add your vegetables.

My understanding of Borscht is that it must contain cabbage and beets, but what do I know? Mine typically contains cabbage, beets, onion, carrot, rutabaga, potato and a can of diced tomatoes. About half the time I forget the tomatoes and/or the potato, but the rest is there for sure. The rutabaga is my own addition to the recipe for the simple reason that I like rutabaga. Yummy rutabaga... What? Right. Anyway. You can pretty much use whatever combination of root vegetables you like or have on hand. Chop up a good amount of each (I'm talking like, one large carrot, one russet potato, half a large rutabaga etc.) into bite-size pieces. Add each vegetable as you chop it, giving it a stir as you do. Add the can of tomatoes(if you haven't done like I did and forgot it.)

While that's simmering away, take the soup bones you set aside earlier and remove the meat. Do this however works best for you; use a knife, your bare hands, a combination thereof, whatever. Your goal is to separate the good meat from the bone, fat and other gristle. Add the meat to the Borscht and let that simmer a little bit longer, giving an occasional stir when you check on it.

You can always add some water at any point if the level has gotten too low. Any excess liquid will boil off, and you really can't kill this.

Serve hot. I always have a bowl or two right when I finish and before I store the rest.

For storage, I usually freeze mine in 1L mason jars, but you can use whatever works best for you. If you do like I do, you've got to do it carefully. Freezer plus glass equals glass shards if it isn't done properly, something I sacrificed four jars to find out. The fact that I still ate those batches is entirely beside the point...

The first rule is to never go quickly from hot to cold. Let the Borscht cool at least to room temperature, or let it chill in the fridge first. The second rule is to leave about an inch of space at the top, and don't seal it completely right away. You want to give the Borscht space to expand as it freezes. You can always screw the tops down properly the next day.

Now, after what you just ate, you probably have a good three litres of Borscht that will keep for however long you need. Sometimes mine makes it a full two week before it disappears.

Share and enjoy!

No comments:

Post a Comment