Thursday, February 2, 2017

Georgian Beef Chakhokhbili

A few months ago I came across a reference to a cookbook called Russian Delight: A Cookbook of the Soviet Peoples. The cookbook sounded interesting as, despite its misleading title, it is not solely a Russian cookbook at all but instead looks at the cuisine of fourteen separate regions that made up the former USSR.

After searching around a bit on the internet I picked up a copy of it and it is a really excellent and diverse book with recipes that are drawn from culinary traditions as disparate as those of the Estonian and the Uzbek people!

After an ongoing hiatus The Left Chapter's "Cookbook TBT" feature will be returning and we will take an in-depth look at Russian Delight in the near future, but today I am going to take a look at one of recipes in it that I have already made.

This is a dish from Georgia called Chakhokhbili which is a kind of spicy stew. Chakhokhbili can be made with lamb, beef or chicken, though the chicken variant is the most complicated and the best known of these.  I really liked the look of the beef variant and after comparing the recipe in Russian Delight with others that I found online, I made my version of it that took into account the minor variations I saw.


2 lb. beef chunks/cubes
4-5 medium to large onions, diced.
1 full head of garlic minced
1 large (796 ml.) can of diced tomatoes 
3 tablespoons paprika or hot paprika or a combination to taste
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
salt to taste
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons cayenne pepper only if you are using regular paprika. If you are using a hot paprika you can add cayenne pepper to taste depending on just how hot you want it! 

To begin heat some olive oil over medium-high in a large saucepan. Add the beef cubes (salted to taste) and brown them, stirring constantly, for around 7-8 minutes. Add the diced onions and minced garlic to the pan and continue to saute the beef, garlic and onions for another 5-6 minutes or until the onions are golden.

Then add the can of diced tomatoes. Stir them in thoroughly, bring the liquid to a boil and quickly reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for another 30 minutes.

With about five minutes to go in the cooking time add the paprika, basil, parsley, cayenne pepper (if using) and salt (to taste) and stir it in thoroughly.

This simple, rustic and spicy dish is hearty and delicious and perfect for a winter night. It is nice served with rice and fresh bread. Goes well as well with an Italian or Southern European table red wine or with a Bull's Blood red from Hungary.


See also: Lamb Keema with Onions

See also: Beef Chuck Chili with Jalapeno Cornbread

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