How-To: the Best Borscht

Food & Beverage

Apologies for the alliterative title, but I couldn’t resist, and I think it’s true! About four years ago, my freshly affianced boyfriend and I took an old Soviet train with some friends from Helsinki to St. Petersburg at the height of the white nights (it’s true, it never really get dark there in summer). We found our lodgings and wandered around the still-hopping streets (no one seems to sleep there in summer, either) looking for dinner. We found a dark and dingy-looking restaurant and of course ordered borscht, a little nervously.
What arrived was a revelation. Not the sloppy red soup of my experience, but a richly layered stew, with tender beef, sweet beets, and a myriad of other exquisite flavors. I’ve been yearning for this borscht ever since, but it was the fresh beets tumbling off the farmer’s market counters that sent me searching for the right recipe.
I looked at countless recipes online before settling on this beef borscht recipe from Emeril Legasse. Surprisingly easy, it actually managed to match my expectations. (For really tender beef, make sure not to overcook it in the first step.) Even my picky husband gave it a thumbs-up. In fact, the flavors were close enough to my memory to spark another memory, of hard-boiled egg in the original borscht. I’ll throw a few chopped up boiled eggs in the mix next time. And yes, there will definitely be a next time.
Note: I ran out of fresh dill for the photo (the dinner hour is murder for food photography) and used a sprig of parsley for a dash of green, but it’s crucial for the dish, so make sure to find some!

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