Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bloody Borscht

I've figured out why the Russians lost the Cold War. It wasn't the influence of Western culture or military spending during the Reagan administration. The Russians lost the Cold War because of borscht. The national soup of the Motherland is one mother to make. A country can only do so well economically when a disproportionate share of its labor force is spent making soup. Historians may ultimately disagree, but I'm sticking to my theory.   There's a reason that there's a McDonald's on Red Square and it isn't because Big Macs taste so good. The Bolsheviks were done in by borscht.

An adaptation of a recipe by Ann Simon.

1.  Cover a one and a half pot roast, bone in, with water.  Believe it or not, it's tough to find a pot roast these days with the bone in.  I wound up paying 67cents a pound for two beef bones.  It was more than a little annoying to pay $2.50 for a couple of bones that the butcher was going to throw in the trash, but hey, it's the capitalist way.

2.  Add about 1 Tbsp each of the finely chopped stems of cilantro and dill.  This step takes FOREVER because you have pull off the leaves and THEN chop the stems.  Those stems are tiny.  It takes A LOT of stems to get to a Tablespoon.  Save the leaves to garnish when serving--assuming you get that far.

3.  Let the beef and stems simmer on medium heat for about one and half hours, and every 10 minutes or so, skim off the fatty foam. 

4.  Saute in a separate pan about 1/2 cup each of a small dice of carrots, celery, and onion.   Set aside.

5.  Slice really thin one small cabbage or half of a big cabbage.  I recognize that "big" and "small" are relative terms.  "Big" would be the size of Boris Yeltzin's head;  "small" would be about the size of Vladimer Putin's.  

Big Head of Cabbage

Small Head of Cabbage
6.  Meanwhile, boil about 2 pounds of beets in yet another pot.  Boil for 20 minutes until tender.  If, like me, you are running out of space on your stove top, you can also roast the beets for about 45 minutes at 375 degrees, or until tender.    Let them cool.

7.  You forgot to keep skimming the broth, didn't you?  

Bloody, bloody borscht
 8.  When the beets have cooled, peel them.  This is a messy job.  Wear rubber gloves or you'll wander around with more beet blood on your hands than Joseph Stalin had human blood on his.

9.  Grate the beets.  Actually, go buy or borrow or steal a food processor and use that instead.

10.   Check the pot roast and the broth.  Taste the broth to ensure that it is sufficiently "beefy."  If not, add a bouillon cube.  This is also known as cheating.

11. Remove the pot roast from the broth and add the sauteed onions, carrots, and celery.

12.  Simmer for 10 minutes and add the sliced cabbage.

13.  Simmer for 5 minutes more and add the grated beets. 

14.  Peel and dice one potato;  add to the mix.  Are you starting to feel like this recipe is the culinary equivalent of War and Peace?

15.  Add one red or green pepper, thinly sliced.  Simmer some more.

16.  By this time, the beef has likely cooled so that you can cut it into small pieces; add the cut-up beef.

17.  Add 3 sliced tomatoes and the juice of one lemon to preserve that better dead-than-red color.  Cook another 15 minutes.

18.  Add two cloves of minced garlic and 2 tsp of horseradish..

19.  Serve--finally--with a dollop of sour cream and the dill and cilantro leaves for garnish.

20.  If you are Russian, look up from the task and realize that the Cold War is over.

No comments:

Post a Comment