This week’s recipe is from Berkshire-based duo The Butcher & The Baker. The Butcher is Jake, a nose-to-tail butcher/artist, who loves to cook and grew up in the woody hills of Western Massachusetts where his passion for local, fresh food was first instilled in him. The Baker is Silka, a designer/crafter who loves to bake and grew up in rural Western New York where her parents are candlestick makers. Together they spend most of their time talking about, shopping for, making, and eating food. By sourcing locally and sustainably, and spending time with the producers of their food, they’ve learned that every meal tells a story.
February is the most difficult culinary month of the year. We’re desperate for warm weather flavors and some brighter color on our plates, and a gnawing craving for ramps, asparagus, and fiddle-head ferns becomes an everyday occurrence.
The other night we tried to think of some meals that might trick us into thinking spring was more within our reach, or at least bridge the long gap between now and then. After much deliberation, we ended on borscht—and we knew it would deliver on the color front. So much of what we’ve been cooking is a brown, muddy red or yellow color. Borscht promises a shock of magenta, complemented by a dollop of bright white creme fraiche and a sprig of fresh, green parsley.
Borscht is often thought of as a heavy and thick soup. But it doesn’t have to be — and that wasn’t what we were looking for. Inspired by an incredibly simple and light-sounding borscht recipe on Food52, we left the large Red Fire Farm vegetable chunks swimming in a light broth. To beef it up (don’t we always?) we decided to throw in some Whippoorwill Farm cubed chuck. Na zdorov’ya!
Note: The meat in this dish is totally optional. This would be a perfectly flavorful vegetarian soup, as well!
1 lb. cubed beef
8 cups of chicken stock or water
2 tablespoons of olive oil or lard
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
3 medium sized beets, cubed 1”
3 medium sized carrots, cubed 1”
3 medium potato (like Yukon gold), cubed 1”
1 tablespoon creme fraiche or sour cream (per bowl)
1 sprig of parsley or dill
1. Pat the cubed beef dry, and salt heavily.
2. Place a large heavy pot or dutch oven on high heat. With the lard or oil, brown the beef in batches. Set aside.
3. Lower heat to medium-high and cook the onions. When they begin to soften and become translucent, add the beef back along with the stock or water and bay leaf.
4. Bring to boil, then turn down to a simmer and cover for 45 minutes.
5. After 45 minutes add beets. Bring to a boil again, and turn down to a simmer.
6. After another 15 minutes, add the carrots and potatoes. Let cook for another half hour, or until a fork goes through the potatoes.
7. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a sprig of parsley or dill in each bowl.