Useful Stuff to Know » article » Borscht Recipe » Apr 1, 09:13 PM

Borscht Recipe

What is borscht? It’s a red colored stew made with beets, originating in Ukraine but widely eaten in Russia. Somewhat sweet and sour, hearty, often meaty, sometimes smokey.

What are the benefits of borscht? In a nutshell it is full of vegetables but particularly beets, which help produce nitric oxide in your body, which helps dilate blood vessels and assist mitochondrial function. See this article for more.

My Ukrainian grandmother gave me the following recipe. Just kidding, I don’t have a grandma from Ukraine. However in experimenting with numerous borscht recipes, I have refined them into a single master borscht recipe that is easy to make and tastes delicious. Anyway here is the recipe:

Smokey Borscht

2-4 smoked sausages (like andouille or kielbasa) sliced into half inch discs
2 chicken quarters, skin on and bone in

3-4 medium sized red beets, cut into quarter inch cubes (frozen is okay too)
1 small red cabbage, shredded
1 red onion, chopped
1 Gala / Pink Lady apple, cubed

2 cups water
1/3 teaspoon salt
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Put water, salt, and chicken in a pot.

Then add the beets, cabbage, onions, sausage, and apples — in layers, and in that order.

Put a lid on, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and let that simmer for 30 minutes.

Then add the vinegar, mix it all up, and simmer another 30 minutes. Done.

Notes

Only 2 cups of water are used because the cabbage, apple, beets, and onion exude water as they cook. Too much water in the beginning and the borscht comes out bland and must be boiled down, which wastes energy. It’s better to keep things concentrated.

The layers ensure that the apple and sausage doesn’t get overcooked. After 30 minutes of simmering, however, it’s okay to mix everything up.

The vinegar is added after 30 minutes because if added in the beginning, the acid dries out the chicken. Doing that after the chicken’s already cooked doesn’t have this effect. Also useful to know if making adobo chicken (a Filipino dish).

The smoked nature of the sausage is a central ingredient and gives this dish character. Other types of meat or sausage just won’t do. The chicken is just there to add more protein and provide a meaty broth.

There is no garlic in this recipe as it interferes with the purity of the fruit/beet flavor. I’m a fan of garlic but not in this style of borscht.

Also no potatoes here, but they can be added if desired. I recommend one or two red potatoes, cubed. I try not to eat too many nightshade plants as the solanine toxin in them hits your mitochondria pretty hard, which subverts the purpose of the nitric oxide effect from the beets.

The apple is important — it adds extra sweetness, tartness, and a fruity aroma that gives the borscht direction. Apple cider provides further tartness and makes the apple aroma taste more sophisticated. The two together offset the plain sweetness of the beets, resulting in a complex sweet-n-sour dynamic. This tension is then plucked by the smokey flavor to produce a Slavic siren song of tastes.

Traditionally, borscht is eaten in a bowl with a dollop of sour cream added on top, with a side of crusty buttered bread. Bonus points if it’s sourdough rye bread. I have fond memories of my non-existent Ukrainian baba eating borscht this way.