Spoonin' some slurpy stuff about the world's drippiest drool

Monday, December 20, 2010

Beef, Borscht and Beyond

Beef Borscht

My earliest memories of borscht are my Mom taking the container of purple liquid with the occasional beet chunk out of the refrigerator, adding some hard boiled egg, and pouring it in a bowl. It is a wonder I ever tried borscht again.

Many years later, a neighbor of ours, freshly immigrated from Moscow, served me a warm version of that same purple concoction. This time, however, the soup was rich and velvety, brimming with melt in your mouth beef and bright, fragrant herbs. And so began my love affair with beets and borscht.

The recipe I finally have settled on starts with short ribs. I used boneless - that's all they had at the store, but on the bone would add more flavor. I browned the ribs and then simmered them in beef stock with cloved onions and dill for an hour and then with beets, tomatoes, potato, carrots, leek, caraway seeds, chicken stock and water for another hour. This time I added beer to deglaze the skillet after browning the ribs - I'm happy to report the beer added a yeasty flavor that complimented the caraway nicely. I finished the soup with lemon juice, fresh dill, salt and pepper and topped each bowlful with a dollop of sour cream.

And now for the beyond. What to do with the leftovers. The easy answer is - eat them. But when you have leftover horseradish mashed potatoes too, you start to get creative. My solution - pull the solids out of the soup and place in a casserole dish. Cook down the soup liquid to a syrup and pour over the solids. Mix in fresh chopped dill and top with the horseradish mashed potatoes. Voila - Psychedelic Shepherd's Pie.