World Cup host nation, Russia, will face Croatia in Sochi this week. Folks lucky enough to attend the game will need just 300 rubles to get a Klinskoye beer in a souvenir cup and a piece of Russian cabbage pie to enjoy during the game. For those of us stuck stateside, we can enjoy a few of the flavors of Sochi by marrying a duo of Russian dishes.

Vibrant Borscht traditionally includes both beans and potatoes, but my streamlined version cuts back on the carbohydrates in order to make room for a garnish of a few Georgian meat-filled dumplings known as Khinkoli.

Simple Borscht and Khinkoli – Six servings

For the Borscht:

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 medium beets, peeled and cut into ¼” x 2” batons
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • ½ Cup minced white onion
  • 5 Cups enhanced beef stock with vinegar (recipe below)
  • 4 ounces of shredded red cabbage
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped dill
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • Sour cream and chopped dill for garnish

Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the beets, carrots and onions. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally for three minutes. Add the beef stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until beets and carrots are tender. Add the cabbage and stir until wilted. Stir in the brown sugar and adjust seasoning to taste.

For the Khinkoli:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • ½ Cup minced white onion
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 20 wonton wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten

Combine the beef, onion, dill garlic and seasonings in a bowl and mix well. Lay the wrappers out on a work surface and place a generous tablespoon of the filling in the center of each wrapper. Moisten the edges of each wrapper with a little beaten egg and fold according to the directions on the wrapper packaging or according to your personal preferences. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the dumplings and simmer until they float to the surface of the water-about six minutes. Alternatively the Khinkoli can be steamed for 8 minutes.

To serve: Ladle the hot borscht into 6 serving bowls and top each portion with three Khinkoli dumplings. Garnish with sour cream and dill sprigs and serve at once with rye bread and butter if desired.

Enhanced Beef Stock

This straightforward stock makes use of store bought stock items and crock pot convenience. I even like to cook mine overnight to maximize time. 

  • 1-2 Bone in beef shanks
  • 3 Tablespoons canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 Large white onion, cut into eighths
  • 3 celery stalks with leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 Large carrots unpeeled, roughly chopped
  • 12 parsley stems
  • 10 Black peppercorns
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 4 Cups reduced sodium beef stock
  • 1 Cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons cider vinegar (optional)

Season the beef shanks liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet until nearly smoking. Sear the shanks for 8 minutes per side or until deeply browned. Transfer the browned shanks to a crock pot and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook the stock on high for two hours before reducing to low. Continue cooking for 6-8 hours. Strain the solids from the stock and reserve for use in a myriad of recipes.

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