Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Gourmet Again! Episode Features Bogdan's Borscht

Our most recent episode of our YouTube cooking show, "Gourmet Again!," features Bogdan teaching us how to make his family's favorite traditional Ukrainian dish, Red Borscht. Ron and I had fun with Bogdan in the kitchen, then our friend Bob came over to officially taste-test the Borscht. Delicious!

Here is Bogdan's family recipe:


For the soup:
1 gallon pure water, plus more
1 lb. pork loin
5 large potatoes
2 red beet roots
1/2 head green cabbage
1 tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 medium carrots
Handful of Italian flat leaf parsley
Pinch of dried basil
3 bay leaves
3 tbsp tomato sauce
1/3 cup Borscht broth, from the stock pot
Freshly ground pepper
Red or black salt

Sour cream
Boiled eggs, sliced in half
Ukrainian baked dough
Fried lard

Fill a medium stock pot with 1 gallon of water and heat to boil. Place pork loin in boiling water, return to a boil, reduce heat to medium-high and cook 30 minutes.

Peel beets and shred with a standard-size shredder. Add to stock pot and stir. Cook until beets lose release their color to the water and become translucent.

As you cook Borscht, resist the urge to force the pork loin to break down or shred. Bogdan says adamantly, "Don't cut the meat!" (We will however, slice the pork loin prior to serving).

Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cut each into six large chunks. Add to cooked pork.

Chop cabbage into very small pieces, avoiding use of the core. Add to Borscht pot and stir.

Chop onion. Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté onion until translucent.

Peel and shred carrots using a micro-planer. Add to cooked carrots -- always after the onions, because Bogdan says the carrots will absorb the oil. Sauté until carrots begin to brown.

Meanwhile, chop parsley; add it with dried basil and bay leaves to Borscht pot.

When carrots are browned a bit, add tomato sauce and Borscht broth to steam the onion/carrot mixture for a few minutes. Then add sauté mixture to Borscht pot.

Add more boiling water to Borscht pot to bring within "two fingers width" of the top of the pot and give it a good stir.

Bring back to a boil and heat thoroughly for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow Borscht to rest before serving. The pot will stay hot for a very long time!

Add salt and pepper to taste. Bogdan likes to do this at each step of the process (although we think folks with health issues may want to eschew the salt altogether).

Remove the pork loin from the Borscht and place on a plate or cutting board. Cut or shred into small strips.

Ladle Borscht into big bowls. Top with 1/2 cup of pork and place a heaping tablespoon of sour cream off to one side. Traditionally, Ukrainians complete their Borscht experience with half of a boiled egg per bowl, adding a baked dough, much like a biscuit, and finally, small dollops of fried lard.

Another option is using wild duck in place of the pork -- the duck meat can withstand a long cooking period without falling apart and also provides a pleasant gamey quality to the Borscht.

Bogdan says Ukrainians do not drink wine much and are not wine aficionados, but his grandfather takes a shot of ice-cold Vodka prior to eating Borscht. Sorry, Bogdan: as a minor living in the U.S.A., you will NOT be drinking Vodka in my kitchen!

Our friend Bob came over just in time for dinner, and we elected him our official "Gourmet Again! Borscht Taste Tester." You can see in the video how much he enjoyed our Borscht! He also brought a fantastic bottle of Niner red wine to share between the three of us who are of legal drinking age yet decided to skip the Vodka step. Bogdan enjoyed some tasty blackberry/pomegranate juice.

We gathered around our dining table and served our Borscht with flatbread and award winning olive oil from San Miguel Olive Farm... Bogdan approved!

As with all soups and savory dishes, Borscht tastes even more delicious the next day.

Sincere thanks again to Bogdan -- who is quite an eloquent presenter and historically rather astute for a high school student. Great appreciation to Bob for essentially making all this happen, to Ron for thoughtful camera work and keen or sometimes quirky humor, and of course, to YOU, our viewers.

Maybe next episode, I'll have time to add photographs. Ack! For now, check out the video. Go ahead and tell me it's not enough to edit 54 minutes of footage down to 20 minutes...!