Success!

My noble husband, hearing my cries of distress, braved the elements of a scary Kroger’s parking lot in Norwood, Ohio and procured more meat. Georgian Beef Stew was made. And it was excellent.

Nothing particularly hard about the recipe – the meat is braised in a way that I had never tried before, but it was fun learning a new cooking technique. The only painful part for me was chopping up three onions – I love them but oh lordy do my eyes water. I probably should think about wearing swimming goggles or something.

(image by The Global Reader)

The recipe is adapted from an excellent cookbook, The Georgian Feast: The Vibrant Culture and Savory Foods of the Republic of Georgia by Darra Goldstein. Which is a Julia Child Cookbook Awards Book of the Year, by the way.

Vibrant is correct; I am absolutely in love with the exuberance Georgian culture has for food, drink, and celebration. They seem to like to have fun.

Georgian Beef Stew (Sousi)

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter
  • 3 medium onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 pounds potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes, diced (drained)
  • 1 28oz can of tomatoes, pureed
  • 2 bays leaves
  • 4 cups chopped cilantro (1/4 pound)
  • 4 cups chopped basil (1/4 pound)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 hot red or green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1.  In a dutch oven cook the meat, covered, over low heat until it begins to sweat
  2. Without adding any liquid, braise the meat for about 10 minutes, stirring once.
  3. Uncover the pan and turn the heat to high. Cook for another 10 minutes, until the liquid evaporates.
  4. Add the butter at this point, and cook the meat over medium high heat for about 10 minutes more, stirring occasionally, until it browns. Next, add the onions and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes more.
  5. Add the tomatoes along with the remaining ingredients, seasoning to taste with pepper. Mix well. Simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

I never peel potatoes unless I really, really have to.

Also, I used just half of a jalapeno (the only hot pepper I had on hand) due to my husband’s very sensitive palette. However, this stew can totally handle a whole pepper without becoming “too spicy”. I’ll go for the full deal next time.

I went simple and just served it with some crusty whole grain bread and some red wine. I haven’t had a chance to shop for Georgian wines yet, but from what I understand they are often a bit sweeter than what is consumed in my household. But we had a nice Cabernet Franc from Pelee Island Winery on hand, and it went very well.

Another winner all the way around!

Sousi – Georgian Beef Stew
(image by The Global Reader)

Further and Further Off The Beaten Path

As so often happens when you are an obsessive internet surfer, one thing lead to another and I spent a hefty chunk of yesterday reading about Tusheti, a remote area of Georgia near the border with Dagestan and Chechnya.

I ran across the travelogue of a family from the UK, who actually get to go to some of the places I am so far just reading about. Their blogs are really quite enjoyable; here’s one that offers up some helpful advice for visiting Tusheti.

A Range in Tusheti
(image by By Wim Koolhoven from Enschede, Netherlands, via Wikimedia Commons

 

They also have a series of blogs on travels in other areas of Georgia and beyond.

Tusheti
(image By Lidia Ilona (Tusheti) , via Wikimedia Commons)

Very Responsible Driver Wanted

A Road in Tusheti.
(Image by By Paata Vardanashvili from Tbilisi, Georgia (http://www.flickr.com/photos/paata/1114263618/), via Wikimedia Commons

In the mood for a lazy Sunday drive? Too bad.

Check this out: a video of a drive over a mountain pass in the Georgian Caucasus. At times, the road appears to be cut through A GLACIER. (Update: turns out that is “just” leftover snow from the previous winter. So kind of the beginnings of a glacier in a way, and intense nonetheless.)

Totally hardcore. And something you probably can do only in the summer.

Detours make a journey interesting

A little background on what motivated yesterday’s post:

This detour was triggered by one of the books I picked for Georgia: Let Our Fame Be Great by Oliver Bullough. Not just about my chosen country, it’s a exploration of the history and modern-day struggles of different cultures in the Caucasus. One of the first groups mentioned in the book are the Circassians – a people with an amazing history, but who are now scattered in exile around the globe without a homeland to call their own.

As I approached this part of the world for the first time, I realized I knew almost nothing about it. AT ALL. So, I wanted to create some kind of framework for myself before reading about Georgia; I was concerned that otherwise, my introduction to one particular country would color everything that came after.

How do things fit together in the Caucasus?  Turns out that is a huge, complicated question – the region is truly one of the most culturally and linguistically diverse regions on the planet. And just look who their neighbors are…they certainly make life interesting, don’t they?

Ethnolinguistic Groups in the Caucasus Region
(Image by U.S. Central Intelligence Agency [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)