Grandmother’s Best Borscht

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

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Nutrition per portion

  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. Remove bay leave and vegetables and discard. Remove beef and cool, then cut into chunks. Remove meat from ham hock and discard bone.
  3. Add beets and potatoes to the stock with the beef and ham and simmer.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Add the onion/cabbage mixture to the bubbling stock. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Garnish and serve hot. Pass sour cream at the table.

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