For your cooking convenience and pleasure, here is a step-by-step guide to making that most stereotypical of Russian dishes (it’s actually Ukrainian) dishes: borsch.
Step 1. Accompany a Russian woman to the meat market. For authenticity’s sake, her name should be Olga, but if no Olga is available, a Lena also does quite nicely. Observe as she questions the butcher about the best meats for borsch, and then purchases two slabs of the beef. To add some fun to your meat market adventure, try to identify the other cuts of meat you’ll see in the display window. The selection of liver, chicken hearts and cow tongues was quite impressive.
Step 2. Purchase a bag of onions, a bag of beets, a bag of potatoes, a head of cabbage and several cloves of garlic.
Step 3. Prepare the meat for boiling. Cut as much away from the bone as possible, and break the bones into smaller pieces. Bones, fat and tendons will add flavor to the stock. Cut the beef into bite sized pieces.
Step 4. Boil the meat for one hour, occasionally skimming off the fat and other unnecessary meat dandruff from the surface.
Step 5. Eat a snack while you’re waiting. Today’s snack is curds with sour cream and sugar. Tea is the perfect accompanying beverage. (Vodka is only a breakfast drink.) This is also the perfect time to learn about the qualities and varieties of honey.
Step 6. (one hour later) The meat is boiled, and you can now remove the bones and tendons from the stock, and it is time to prepare the vegetables. I got REALLY REALLY excited about this amazing chopper/slicer/shredder tool they have. Slice 3 or 4 potatoes, 2 beets, 1 white onion, 1/2 of a cabbage and put them aside in separate bowls. Also grate a large carrot. In two separate frying pans, cook the beets and onions in sunflower oil. *A handy tip: If you crush the cabbage with your hands after you slice it, it will cook faster.
Step 7. Adding the vegetables. There is a lot of vegetable action happening here, and each one of them is doing something different and being added at a different time. First, add the cabbage to the meat and stock. Next, add the carrots to the pan of onions and continue cooking them. After the cabbage is brought to a boil, add the beets, and when that is brought to a boil, add the potatoes. At this time, you still have the carrot/onion mix and the garlic hanging out on the counter.
Step 8. Add two big spoons of vinegar and half of a large spoon of salt (more or less depending on your preference)
Step 9. When the cabbage, beets and potatoes are all thoroughly cooked, add two big spoons of sugar, the carrots, and garlic. Then add three or four laurel leaves (but don’t actually eat them–pull them out while you’re eating your soup) and some black pepper.
Step 10. Eat and enjoy with bread, sour cream, and good company.