“Why are you making borscht? Neither of us like beets. We’ve tried. A lot.” These words rattled around my head all day yesterday while I was preparing “the best borscht you will ever eat” (according to the author of The Essential New York Times Cookbook) for a chilly evening. She’s not wrong. This Winter Borscht actually was the best one I’ve ever eaten to date. I may just get up the courage to try the one made by the sweet little old ladies at Taste of Europe after this.
To answer some of this nagging internal dialogue… I really really want to like it/them. Beets are so good for you! They are packed with so many health benefits that I want to find at least one way I can tolerate them. Beet juice is a no-go for me. It’s like drinking potting soil. So hiding them in other things is the only way I think I can take them. I once even hid beet purée in a chocolate cake. No one even noticed and it even added a little extra moisture and sweetness!
Long simmering the beef with the shredded veggies in this case, not only concentrated the beef flavor, but also infused all of the veggies with its essence. The beef flavor permeated the pot so efficiently as to nearly mask the “sweet dirt” taste of the beets. The aroma was entirely “beef stew” with not a hint of that distinct “soil” smell that beets give off. The final flourish of chopped fresh dill broke up the heaviness of the stew further distracting the palate from any overt “beet-y” taste. It was a hearty potpourri of long-simmered beef and vegetables with an injection of Spring in the fresh herbs topped with a cooling dollop of Daisy.
The only thing that still reminded was that we were eating beets, was the vibrant Valentine hue. You could further camouflage this by using golden beets, but the color really wasn’t the least bit off-putting. As someone else noted in the comments section of the online recipe, I did have to add more water to the pot in between steps. It’s not a difficult recipe and despite following it rather well, the broth reduced much more than indicated. If you’re unable to locate beef shins like me, I chose skirt steak and it worked seamlessly. The beef was so tender after it’s long bath that I was able to shred it instead of slicing it. I actually enjoyed this unintended outcome as every bite was invaded with a balanced combination of beef, broth, and veggies!
Verdict: I still don’t like beets, but this stew with the fullness of its other flavors almost made me forget that. We have fairly adventurous appetites and like trying many cuisines from various cultures so I’m eager to explore more Eastern European fare. What are some of your favorite more “exotic” stews?
Currently Reading: Magnolia Journal, Spring 2020 Edition