- 2 pounds medium beets
- 2 pounds trimmed beef chuck, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- All-purpose flour, for dusting
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- One 2 1/2-pound head of red cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
- 2 medium fennel bulbs—halved, cored and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup sweet paprika
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, plus more for seasoning
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 3 1/2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 cup drained prepared horseradish (12 ounces)
- 3/4 cup minced chives
- Preheat the oven to 400°. In a shallow baking dish, cover the beets with foil and bake until tender, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel the beets and cut them into 1/2-inch dice.
- Meanwhile, season the meat with salt and pepper and toss with flour just until lightly coated. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add half of the meat and cook over moderately high heat until browned all over; transfer to a bowl with a slotted spoon. Repeat with 1 tablespoon of oil and the remaining meat.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup of oil to the casserole. Stir in the red cabbage, onions, fennel, garlic and paprika. Cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and honey and cook over moderately high heat until the vegetables start sticking to the casserole and browning lightly, about 3 minutes. Add the beets, browned meat, chicken broth and thyme sprigs and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the meat is very tender, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream with the horseradish and chives and season with salt and pepper.
- Discard the thyme sprigs and season the borscht to taste with salt, pepper, vinegar and honey. Serve in cups or bowls, passing the horseradish cream at the table.
The borscht and horseradish cream can be refrigerated separately overnight. Bring the horseradish cream to room temperature and reheat the borscht before serving.