HOT BEEF BORSCHT FOR AUNT GERTIE
When I was little, my aunt Gertie talked frequently about a hot beef borscht with garlic that she had eaten
during her own childhood. Although her taste memory of it was vivid, no matter how hard she tried she was
never able to make a version that matched the one she described so fondly. I think this richly beefy, slightly
peppery borscht is what Aunt Gertie had in mind. Borscht is usually sweet and sour, with lemon juice as the
traditional flavoring, but I also add vinegar—which contributes an appealing tanginess. Because this
borscht contains meat, it should be served hot, not cold. Accompanied by thick-sliced rye bread, a cucumber
or green salad, and a dish of sour cream, this makes a very satisfying meal. The sour cream is more than a
garnish—it balances and smoothes out the flavors. Like most soups, this borscht improves with age and
reheating. However, caraway seeds will overwhelm the other flavors in reheated dishes, so add some of the
seeds to the borscht each time you heat it, rather than all at once.
Serves 6 as a main course
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3 pounds beef brisket*
5 cups veal stock, canned low-sodium chicken broth, or water
3 tablespoons rendered chicken fat or canola or other vegetable oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 1/2 quarts chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
5 cups peeled and shredded uncooked beets (5 to 6 large beets)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
6 cups shredded cabbage (1- to 2-pound head)
7 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
2 tablespoons coarse (Kosher) salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
FreshDirect Note: Our brisket tends to run large—closer to 5 lb than 3 lb.
Place the beef in a large saucepan and add the beef stock. It should cover the meat. Bring to a boil over high heat,
then reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until the beef is tender, about 2 hours. Remove the beef
from the liquid and let it cool. Reserve the stock. (This may be done a day ahead.) When it's cool, cut the meat
into 1/2-inch dice.
Heat the chicken fat or oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté,
stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the reserved beef stock and the chicken stock, increase the heat to high, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to
low and add the beets and lemon juice. Simmer, uncovered, until the beets are quite tender, about 30 minutes. At this
point the beets should still be red, but they will have begun to give up their color to the broth.
Add the cut-up beef and cabbage, increase the heat to return the borscht to a simmer, then simmer, uncovered, until
the cabbage is soft and the beef is heated through, about 10 minutes more. Season with sugar, vinegar, salt, pepper,
and caraway (if desired). Simmer for a couple of minutes to let the flavors blend, then taste and adjust the seasoning.
Excerpted from STAFF MEALS FROM CHANTERELLE copyright © 2000 David Waltuck, Melicia Phillips.
Reprinted with the permission of Workman Publishing Co., Inc. All Rights Reserved.