Among the Slavic cuisines, traditional Ukrainian food is considered one of the most diverse, and its peculiarities are the consequence of being restricted to baking in a hot oven and cooking on hot plates. Ukraine borrowed much of its food culture from neighbouring countries but the arrival of the potato in the 19th century impacted heavily on the use of traditional cereal, fish, meat and vegetable products. The predominance of pork and veal, garlic and onion, berries and fruits, grains and herbs, leaf and root vegetables were the result of an agrarian lifestyle. A hallmark of these ingredients is borsch, totally representative of the diversity of native dishes. Borsch can be green, red and cold. In the old days borsch contained beetroot and bread, but nowadays this version is rare. A technically sophisticated dish, modern borsch uses several culinary techniques and a large number of ingredients. This is the recipe for red borsch by Andrey Kokarev, head chef at Estadio in Kharkiv.
3 litres water 1 kg meat bones 700 g potatoes, cut into strips 600 g cabbage, cut into strips 500 g veal 300 g beet, cut into strips 300 g green leaves, cut into strips 300 g salo (salted pork fat) 300 g tomatoes, blended 200 g carrots, cut into strips 200 g shallot, chopped 100 g parsley root, chopped 100 ml sour cream 30 g butter 30 ml vegetable oil 3 garlic cloves, crushed 5 black peppercorns, crushed 3 allspice corns, crushed 1 bay leaf Salt, large pinch Sugar, large pinch Vinegar, splash beets, splash stew
Simmer bones for two hours, add veal and simmer for 90 minutes, strain liquid and retain the meat. Sprinkle some vinegar on the beets, fry in oil for 15 minutes, then add a small amount of broth and stew for 20 minutes. In a separate frying pan sauté carrot, parsley root and shallot in butter for a few minutes, then add tomatoes, sugar and vinegar. Return to the large cooking pot. Cook potatoes in the meat broth for 15 minutes, then the cabbage for 10 minutes, season with salt. Add stewed beets for 10 minutes, then the fried vegetables. Simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile cut veal into bite-sized pieces, add to the pot with the spices. Remove pot from heat, add garlic, herbs and salo, cover and allow at least 20 minutes of infusion. Serve in bowls, a tablespoon of sour cream for each diner.
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