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The beetroot borscht was invented in what is now Ukraine and first popularized in North America by Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews from Eastern Europe. Depending on the recipe, some of these components may be omitted or substituted for.
Borscht ingredients may include beef, pork, lard, beetroots, cabbage, carrots, celeriac, onions, potatoes, mushrooms, tomato paste, parsley, chives, dill, bay leaves, allspice and black pepper. The stock is typically made by boiling meat, bones, or both. Beefpork or a combination of both are most commonly used, with brisketribsshank and chuck considered to give the most flavorful results, especially if cooked on a high flame.
Marrow bones are considered best for the bone stock. Meat stock is usually cooked for about two hours, whereas bone stock takes four to six hours to prepare. Meat and bones are usually removed afterwards and the meat is only added back into the soup about 10—15 minutes before the borscht is done.
Some recipes call for smoked meatsresulting in a distinctively smoky borscht, while others use poultry or mutton stock. Fasting varieties are typically made with fish stock to avoid the use of meat, while purely vegetarian recipes often substitute forest mushroom broth for the stock.
Some recipes may also call for beanstart applesturnipceleriaczucchini or bell peppers. Parsnip may be used as a substitute for parsley root, and tomato paste is often used as well as or instead of fresh tomatoes.
This distinctive feature of borscht derives from the practice of slow cooking in the Russian oven traditional masonry stoveused for both cooking and heatingwherein the differences in cooking times of individual ingredients had to be taken into account in order to ensure that all components reach doneness at the same time.
The importance of this method is reflected in the Russian language, where a variant in which all vegetables are added raw directly into the stock is referred to by the diminutive form borshchok [b] rather than borshch.
The beetroots may be partially baked before being sprinkled with vinegar or lemon juice to preserve the color and braised separately from other vegetables. Dry beans are boiled separately.
Potatoes and cabbage are boiled in the stock for about 15 minutes before the precooked vegetables are added. This combination is traditionally obtained by adding beet sour. Sugar, salt and lemon juice may be also added to balance the flavor.
After about 2—5 days or 2—3 weeks without the breadthe deep red, sweet and sour liquid may be strained and is ready to use. It is added to borscht shortly before the soup is done, as prolonged boiling would cause the tart flavor to dissipate.
Apart from its employment in borscht, it may be also added to prepared horseradish or used as pot roast marinade. Saltblack peppergarlicbay leaves and dill are among the most commonly used.
Other aromatics often added to borscht include allspicecelery stalks, parsleymarjoramhot pepperssaffronhorseradish, ginger and prunes. Some recipes require flour or roux to further thicken the borscht. A common opinion is that a good borscht should be thick enough for a spoon to stand upright in it.
Differences between particular varieties may regard the type of stock used meat, bone, or boththe kind of meat beef, pork, poultry, etc. For example, although the typical recipe calls for beef and pork, the Kiev variant uses mutton or lamb as well as beef, while in the Poltava region, the stock for borscht is cooked on poultry meat, that is, chickenduck or goose.
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