Russians Hacked My Brain – Braised Beef with Beets and Red Cabbage


Copious chatter about Russian hacking schemes is provoking my brain to focus on recipe ideas from the Motherland of Putin, Maria Sharapova, and Rasputin. First came beef stroganoff, then borscht, and now I’m combining elements of the two in this slow cooker recipe for Braised Beef with Beets and Red Cabbage and Dill Mashed Potatoes. What’s next, Pirozhki? I love embracing global specialties, but someone please stop me before I start downing shots of vodka and spending my days at a bathhouse.

2 pounds chuck stew meat, trimmed of sinew and cut into 2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1 tablespoon tomato paste
¼ cup red wine vinegar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
1 cup shredded red beets
1½ cups beef stock
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses or 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon fresh dill

Place the chunks of stew meat in a shallow baking dish or bowl. Sprinkle the beef with salt, pepper, and flour. Toss for about 2 minutes until all of the flour adheres to the meat and is moistened.

Heat a large braising pot over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Place half of the beef chunks into the pot and allow them to sear without stirring for two minutes. Flip the beef pieces over and brown for another 2 minutes. Remove the browned beef to one half of the shallow baking dish or bowl from which it came. Repeat this process with the remaining olive oil and pieces of beef; transfer the browned beef back to the baking dish or bowl.

Reduce the heat under the pot to medium-low and add the red cabbage, tomato paste, and red wine vinegar. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to coat the cabbage shreds with tomato paste. Add the garlic and cook for 15 to 20 seconds or until very fragrant. Deglaze the pot with the red wine wine, stir and scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pot, then transfer this cabbage mixture and the beef to a slow cooker.

Add the shredded red beet, beef stock, and thyme sprigs to the slow cooker then set the cover in place and cook on high for 6 hours.

Alternatively, preheat an oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Follow the instructions for searing the beef and cooking the red cabbage with additional acid and seasoning, but instead of transferring the cooked ingredients to the crock pot, add beef back into the braising pot with the cabbage. Add the shredded red beet, beef stock, and thyme sprigs to the pot along with an additional ½ cup of beef stock. Cover the pot with a heavy lid and place it in the oven. Cook for 2½ to 3 hours or until the beef begins to shred apart when prodded with a fork.

Use two forks in the pot to shred the tender beef into smaller bits. Add the pomegranate molasses or juice and fresh dill, then stir until integrated.

Serve atop dill mashed potatoes.

Dill Mashed Potatoes

4 large yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
½ cup butter, cut into small ½-inch cubes
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill

Place the potato chunks into a large pot and cover them by at least two inches with cold water. Set the pot over medium-high heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Strain the potatoes from the water and add them back into the pot with the butter cubes, salt, and white pepper. Once the butter begins to melt, use a potato masher to create fluffy, smooth potatoes. Pour in the milk and fresh dill, and stir until combined. Taste and correct the seasoning is desired.