Ukrainian Borscht cooking

Ukrainian Borscht cooking

Jan 25, 2023

This post is a bit unusual for a crafty blog, but I understood that in these hard times, when we have to survive under Russian attacks, I have to spread Ukrainian culture in its every form.

Ukrainian Borscht is the most famous Ukrainian food. It's even included into the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Of course, Russians say it's their national dish, but it's a pure example of cultural appropriation, just don't fall for that)))

Borscht is cooked not only in Russian families, but in Polish, Belarus, Jewish and other families as well, with local variations. We're absolutely OK with everyone cooking and serving Ukrainian borscht, as it's a great and tasty food. I believe everyone should try it at least once.

There is more than a dozen recipes from different parts of Ukraine: with sweet white beans, with marrow bone, with mushrooms, with beetroot kvass, with beer, with fish, with pickled apples, vegetarian borscht, cold borscht, etc. Like Italian pizza or Japanese sushi, it's rather a concept with no canon, so every Ukrainian family has their own recipe.

What is borscht? It's a thick chowder with a lot of vegetables. With addition of sour cream, it has both sweet and sour taste which is pretty unique.
It's often bright red, due to beetroot, but there is beetrootless borschts as well)) Some recipes are easier, other require lengthy preparations and special ingredients.

My grandma, mother and father cooked their borschts differently)) I have my own recipe as well, it's pretty simple and very tasty. More, it's a healthy food that won't make your stomach heavy. So I decided to share it with you.

Ingredients for 3 liters (about 2 ¾ quarts) pot:
- 1 beetroot, as big as your fist,
- 1 carrot,
- 1 onion,
- 3-4 potatoes,
- a loaf of cabbage, as big as your two fists,
- 2-3 chicken thigh fillets,
- 1,5 teaspoons of salt,
- 3-4 bay leaves,
- 3-4 black peppercorns or the same amount of ground pepper.

Sorry, I don't use grams while cooking, and it won't help to those who are still using Imperial system anyway)) So I made a photos for you. If there is a bit more of some ingredient and a bit less of another one, it's not a big issue.

Fill your pot with 1.5 liters of water (half the pot) and put in onto the stove. While water is being heated, you chop ingredients one by one and throw right into the pot.

As you can see, I use a raw beetroot. Some Ukrainian people who tried to make borscht in other countries said they used already cooked one, because it's easier to find a cooked beetroot in the shops, and it didn't affect the taste much.

I cut beetroot in half, then cut thin loaves (not thicker than 5 mm), then cut them into thin stripes.

Beetroot has to be cooked thoroughly, so I throw it into thew pot first.

The fastest way to cut the carrot is to cut it along in two directions, then cut out thin loaves.

I cut the potatoes the same way as the beetroot, but I usually make 1x1 cm loaves.

This time I had red onion, but any kind is OK.

Cabbage is big, so I buy a whole head and cut as much as I need.

Making thin stripes, the thinner - the better. Just don't make too long stripes: that's why I don't cut directly from the cabbage head, because those long stripes are like noodles, and you often end up with borscht all over your chin while eating)))

Cut the meat into small pieces.

I use red chicken meat, but if you're on a strict diet, you may use chicken breast instead. One breast (~200-250 grams) is enough to make a broth and provide a nice taste.

It usually takes me about 15 minutes to chop everything, and the water is about to boil already.

Time for bay leaves and ground pepper: showing you on the teaspoon so you would know how much to use.

1,5 teaspoons of salt look like this.
I highly recommend to use at least 1,5 teaspoons, it's the minimal amount I found tasty.
Yes, I forgot to add salt several times. It was... ewww!

Add water if needed.

The water is boiling. The borscht should be this thick. If it's not thick enough, just chop more cabbage, or add a bigger beetroot next time))

Cover your pot with a lid with a tiny hole, so the steam would come out, and cook on a small heat for 50 minutes.

When the borscht is ready, add a generous tablespoon of sour cream. Toast rubbed with a clove of garlic is a nice addition.
But I highly recommend to leave your borscht overnight, so every ingredient is soaked with the taste of other ingredients. So, why 3 liters?! That's why! It's a dish that you eat for several days in a row))
Sometimes your beetroot is all transparent after it's cooked, and gives all juices to the broth. But the borscht is red again the next day - magic!

Bon appetite!
I tried to describe the process to the best of my ability, but any questions are welcome!

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