I had this at one of those friend-of-a-friend parties. The host said the recipe came from his grandmother or his grandmother-in-law, I forget which, but I’d not had borscht before and I’d always thought I’d hate it because I hated the beets we’d sometimes have with school lunch He says the secret is the ham hock.
Grandmother’s Best Borscht
- 8 c beef stock
- 1 carrot
- 1 rib celery
- 1 whole onion + 2 large onions, chopped
- 2 lbs beef brisket
- 1 ham hock
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 c dried white beans (navy or great northern) that have been soaked overnight
- 1.5 lbs beets, peeled and diced
- 4 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) butter
- 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 c shredded cabbage
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 Granny Smith or Braeburn apples, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 c cider vinegar
- chives or dill for garnish (optional)
- sour cream for serving
- Combine stock, carrot, celery, whole onion, beef, ham hock, bay leaf, and beans in a large stockpot; bring to a boil. Partially cover and adjust heat so that it simmers and cook at least 2 hours or until meat and beans are very tender.
- Remove bay leave and vegetables and discard. Remove beef and cool, then cut into chunks. Remove meat from ham hock and discard bone.
- Add beets and potatoes to the stock with the beef and ham and simmer.
- Meanwhile, put the butter in a large skillet on high. When it’s melted, add chopped onions, garlic, and cabbage, with a generous pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and cabbage are tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the apples to the onion/cabbage mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 more minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.
- Add the onion/cabbage mixture to the bubbling stock. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish and serve hot. Pass sour cream at the table.