By Nick Schneider
- 1/2 pound bacon, diced
- 1.5 pound beef shanks
- 1 cup diced yellow/red onions
- 1 carrot, peeled and diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
- 2 teaspoons dill seeds
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste
- 2 quarts water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 pounds red beets, roasted, peeled and grated
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
- 5 cups finely shredded red cabbage
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh dill
The beef can be braised ahead of time (1-2 days), cooled, pulled and reintroduced during the later process of cooking the vegetables.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the bacon in a Dutch oven or stockpot and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the fat begins to render, about 3 minutes. Add the beef shanks and cook, stirring, until brown on both sides, about 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the pan. Set aside.
To the fat in the soup pot, add the onions and carrots, and stir to coat. Cook until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, oregano, caraway, dill seeds, and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the red wine vinegar and stir to deglaze the pan. Return the meat to the pot and add the water, salt, and pepper and bring to simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer partially covered until the beef is tender, about 1.5 hours.
Meanwhile, place the beets in a roasting pan with some water (1/2 inch depth) and brush with the oil and cover with tin foil. Roast until tender and can be pierced easily with a fork, about 1 hour. Note: large beets may take longer to cook through. Remove from the oven and let sit until cool enough to handle. Trim the stem and root ends and remove the skins. Coarsely grate and set aside.
When the meat is tender and falling apart remove it to a tray. When it is cool enough, shred it with hands or two forks.
Return to the pot and add the beets, potatoes, and cabbage. Simmer over low heat for another 30 minutes.
Season with additional red wine vinegar, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
Ladle borscht into bowls and garnish with a dollop of sour cream and pinch of fresh dill.