Saturday, December 24, 2011

How to make a real Christmas borscht: part 2

You thought I'd left you hanging with that borscht, huh? All those beets, getting pretty smelly in their jars...

Click here to see Part One of the recipe, which should have left you with jars full of beets.

Making borscht
Remember, the longer the wait, the more acidic the soup. These jars have been sitting here since December 7th.

And the truth is, when you open these jars, you will get a nasty surprise.

Making borscht

Mold! Nasty, horrible, green mold! Oh god and skies alive, what went wrong?

Nothing. This is exactly what was supposed to happen. Fermented beet juice. Trust me, I've eaten borscht acidified with sourdough bread all my life and I'm fine. 38 million people living in Poland are fine. And awesome. Beet borscht makes you awesome.

But, of course, we don't want to be eating the mold. Blech. Scoop it out. Yuck yuck yuck. That's your bread, and what's left of the garlic. Into the bin it goes. Forget you ever saw it.

Making borscht

Next, to make perfectly sure no nasty stuff remains in our soup, place a sheet of gauze over a thick sieve and pour the beet-water through.

Making borscht
Clean gauze, of course.

Making borscht
Wear an apron. Beet splashes are hard to wash out.

Making borscht

The gauze and the sieve will catch all the bad bits, leaving you with a pot full of gorgeous, red liquid.

Making borscht
Clean, gorgeous, magical.
This is not yet borscht.

A step I have permitted myself to skip, because I assume everyone knows the basics, is making a large pot of broth. For Christmas Eve, it should be vegetable (no meat allowed) but on any other day you can use chicken, beef, or whatever your pleasure is.

Just in case you forgot how to do it, here's a quick reminder: chop up some vegetables (absolute standard are carrots, leek, parsnip, celery root, onion) and dump them in a pot of water. You can add some butter, too.

Making borscht

Simmer until vegetables are soft and soup is tasty.

Making borscht

Take vegetables out. You have broth.

Now, take that amazing red beet water and pour it into the broth.

Making borscht

You can throw away the beets that were in the jars, by the way, they're useless to us now. However, you should take two or three fresh, raw beets, peel, and chop them.

Add them to the broth, too. They won't do much for the taste at this point, but they will continue bringing out the colour.

Making borscht

Now, this is important- let the lot simmer, but never boil. If it boils, it will lose that gorgeous colour. Keep an eye on it and let it cook slowly on a small flame until the fresh beets sink down to the bottom of the pot.

Taste it. It should be strong, acidic, strangely exciting. If for some reason it fails to arouse your tastebuds, season it to your liking. And voila. Your borscht is ready.

Remember to serve it with boiled mushroom uszka!

No comments:

Post a Comment