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Short Rib Borscht

A braised beef stew with beets adapted from the Kachka cookbook.
Servings 6

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup Canonla oil
  • 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 medium yellow onions, halved and sliced into half moons
  • 3 large red beets, scrubbed thoroughly I used a clean sponge under cold water to really get the dirt off, since the beets go into the soup unpeeled.
  • 2 quarts beef stock
  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 1 carrot, peeled and grated on the large holes of a box grater
  • 1/2 cup smetana or European-style sour cream
  • 1 handful thinly sliced scallions
  • 1 handful coarsely chopped fresh dill
  • Grainy mustard (for serving)

Instructions

  • Start by browning the short ribs. In a large stock pot, over high heat, add the oil. While the pot is heating, season the short ribs all over with salt (be generous). Add the short ribs, a few at a time, and brown to a nice dark sear (a few minutes per side), using tongs to flip. The brown bits at the bottom of the pot give you all the flavor; monitor the heat so they don't burn. Set the browned short ribs aside and discard the excess grease from the pot.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, plus a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they're deeply caramelized, about 30 minutes. (Keep an eye on it so the onions don't burn.) Add the beets and the stock.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Keep simmering until the beets are about half cooked -- a knife will go in with some resistance -- about 1 hour. (You're flavoring the stock with beets in this step.)
  • Carefully remove the beets with the ladle and add the short ribs back to the pot, cooking at the gentlest simmer, for 3 to 4 hours, uncovered, until the short ribs are fall-apart tender. Taste about halfway to see if it needs more salt. (Mine was super salty, so I added some water.)
  • Peel away the skin of the cooled beets, then grate them on the largest holes of a box grater.
  • When the short ribs have fully cooked, remove them to a bowl. Add the potatoes to the pot, simmer until they're cooked through (about 10 minutes). While the potatoes cook, pull the short rib meat off the bones, removing any connective tissue. Discard the bones and chop the meat into bite-size chunks. Stir the meat back into the pot, along with the grated beets and carrots. Simmer a few minutes more until the beets are cooked through.
  • Ladle the borscht into bowls and garnish with a dollop of smetana or sour cream, a sprinkling of scallions and dill. Serve with spicy mustard.