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Old 10-04-2009, 11:29 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Chakapuli is a traditional Georgian seasonal dish often served at
Easter. In some ways it is emblematic of the Georgian - the eastern
part of the country at the very least - use of herbs and spices.
Georgian food is reputed to be very spicy - and it is. Yet, it is
rarely spicy-hot - it is spicy in the sense of using a lot of spices and
herbs, particularly the latter, but few of the spices are hot.
Chakapuli is positively overloaded with herbs, particularly tarragon.
Some versions use as much as twice the amount of herbs - by weight! - as
of lamb. Lamb is usual, but other meat, particularly veal, is sometimes
used and, occasionally, no meat at all, but instead mushrooms or
potatoes. As I understand it, "chakapuli" literally means "a dish with
foam", probably because a cap of foam is formed - and stays there for
some time - once the wine is added.

The herbs are leaves only, carefully stripped of possibly tough stems.

The dish ideally calls for wild-growing tart tkemali or alycha plums
(prunus divaricata or prunus vachuschtii), but these are rarely
obtainable outside of Georgia. (It appears, one can buy a bare-root
tree at http://www.fruit-tree.com/new2009.shtml if one is willing to
plant it in one's garden.) Otherwise, tklapi, dried, puréed fruit of
tkemali or alycha, a kind of fruit leather, can be used, but this, too,
is unobtainable by usual means. An alternative is to use bottled
tkemali sauce, the green variety if possible, which can often be found
at Russian groceries or on line. I had the red (actually brown in
colour) variety on hand, but the green one can be bought on line here.
Since the red variety is less tart (it is made of riper plums), I added
a splash of lemon juice.

So, tonight I cooked the dish, adapting a recipe from a Russian-language
site at
http://www.liveinternet.ru/users/caprice_des_dieux/post86553411/.
(The recipe actually appears to have been lifted from another Russian
discussion site requiring registration.) The recipe calls for tail fat
of a fat-tail sheep. This is a special fat, not really replaceable by
anything else. This is unfortunate, as fat-tail sheep, ubiquitous in
the Caucasus and Central Asia, are virtually unknown elsewhere. Maybe I
should have tried a Turkish halal butcher... The dish is very
interesting and phenomenally aromatic. For wine, I used Robert Skalli
Viognier and served it at the table, too.

Amounts are approximate, which is typical of Georgian recipes.

Chakapuli

some belly Speck and some lard with griebenes, to use instead of sheep's
tail fat
about 1.5 boned leg of lamb, carefully trimmed of silverskin and cubed
(about 2.5 x 2.5 inch cubes)
1 large onion, cut in half-rings
400 ml (1.7 cups) dry white wine
6 handfuls tarragon, finely chopped or torn
4 handfuls parsley, finely chopped or torn
3 handfuls coriander leaves, finely chopped or torn
3 handfuls dill, finely chopped or torn
1 bunch green onions, cut in fine rings
1 leek (white part and a bit of tender green), cut in fine rings
1 bunch young, soft garlic sprouts, cut in fine rings
1 green hot peperoncini-type pepper, chopped
300 ml (1.3 cups) red tkemali sauce, plus a splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the Speck over low fire, adding the lard mid way
through. Turn up the heat to high, add the lamb pieces and sear them,
adding the onions a bit later. Once the meat is seared, reduce the heat
and cook until the juice (there will be quite a bit) are rendered and
then gradually evaporated. Once only a bit of juices is left, add the
wine and cook over low fire for some time. At this point the meat
should already be tender. Add the herbs, including leeks and green
onions, the green pepper, and the tkemali sauce and lemon juice. Cook,
covered for 15 minutes or so. Serve hot, with lavash (flat bread) - I
used a wheat tortilla), to dunk in the sauce.


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Old 11-04-2009, 02:41 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Victor Sack wrote:
Chakapuli is a traditional Georgian seasonal dish often served at
Easter. In some ways it is emblematic of the Georgian - the eastern
part of the country at the very least - use of herbs and spices.
Georgian food is reputed to be very spicy - and it is. Yet, it is
rarely spicy-hot - it is spicy in the sense of using a lot of spices and
herbs, particularly the latter, but few of the spices are hot.
Chakapuli is positively overloaded with herbs, particularly tarragon.
Some versions use as much as twice the amount of herbs - by weight! - as
of lamb. Lamb is usual, but other meat, particularly veal, is sometimes
used and, occasionally, no meat at all, but instead mushrooms or
potatoes. As I understand it, "chakapuli" literally means "a dish with
foam", probably because a cap of foam is formed - and stays there for
some time - once the wine is added.

The herbs are leaves only, carefully stripped of possibly tough stems.

The dish ideally calls for wild-growing tart tkemali or alycha plums
(prunus divaricata or prunus vachuschtii), but these are rarely
obtainable outside of Georgia. (It appears, one can buy a bare-root
tree at http://www.fruit-tree.com/new2009.shtml if one is willing to
plant it in one's garden.) Otherwise, tklapi, dried, puréed fruit of
tkemali or alycha, a kind of fruit leather, can be used, but this, too,
is unobtainable by usual means. An alternative is to use bottled
tkemali sauce, the green variety if possible, which can often be found
at Russian groceries or on line. I had the red (actually brown in
colour) variety on hand, but the green one can be bought on line here.
Since the red variety is less tart (it is made of riper plums), I added
a splash of lemon juice.

So, tonight I cooked the dish, adapting a recipe from a Russian-language
site at
http://www.liveinternet.ru/users/caprice_des_dieux/post86553411/.
(The recipe actually appears to have been lifted from another Russian
discussion site requiring registration.) The recipe calls for tail fat
of a fat-tail sheep. This is a special fat, not really replaceable by
anything else. This is unfortunate, as fat-tail sheep, ubiquitous in
the Caucasus and Central Asia, are virtually unknown elsewhere. Maybe I
should have tried a Turkish halal butcher... The dish is very
interesting and phenomenally aromatic. For wine, I used Robert Skalli
Viognier and served it at the table, too.

Amounts are approximate, which is typical of Georgian recipes.

Chakapuli

some belly Speck and some lard with griebenes, to use instead of sheep's
tail fat
about 1.5 boned leg of lamb, carefully trimmed of silverskin and cubed
(about 2.5 x 2.5 inch cubes)
1 large onion, cut in half-rings
400 ml (1.7 cups) dry white wine
6 handfuls tarragon, finely chopped or torn
4 handfuls parsley, finely chopped or torn
3 handfuls coriander leaves, finely chopped or torn
3 handfuls dill, finely chopped or torn
1 bunch green onions, cut in fine rings
1 leek (white part and a bit of tender green), cut in fine rings
1 bunch young, soft garlic sprouts, cut in fine rings
1 green hot peperoncini-type pepper, chopped
300 ml (1.3 cups) red tkemali sauce, plus a splash of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, melt the Speck over low fire, adding the lard mid way
through. Turn up the heat to high, add the lamb pieces and sear them,
adding the onions a bit later. Once the meat is seared, reduce the heat
and cook until the juice (there will be quite a bit) are rendered and
then gradually evaporated. Once only a bit of juices is left, add the
wine and cook over low fire for some time. At this point the meat
should already be tender. Add the herbs, including leeks and green
onions, the green pepper, and the tkemali sauce and lemon juice. Cook,
covered for 15 minutes or so. Serve hot, with lavash (flat bread) - I
used a wheat tortilla), to dunk in the sauce.

Saved. I will have to venture to some eastern European stores in
search of that sauce--maybe brushing up on my Cyrillic alphabet
before I do.

--
Jean B.
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Old 11-04-2009, 09:37 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Victor Sack wrote:

The recipe calls for tail fat
of a fat-tail sheep. This is a special fat, not really replaceable by
anything else. This is unfortunate, as fat-tail sheep, ubiquitous in
the Caucasus and Central Asia, are virtually unknown elsewhere. Maybe I
should have tried a Turkish halal butcher... The dish is very
interesting and phenomenally aromatic. For wine, I used Robert Skalli
Viognier and served it at the table, too.


In this country, the tails of little lambs are cut off
in commercial production, the justification being that
nobody eats the tail so it's a waste of feed to grow one.
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Old 11-04-2009, 11:24 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Mark Thorson wrote:

Victor Sack wrote:

The recipe calls for tail fat
of a fat-tail sheep. This is a special fat, not really replaceable by
anything else. This is unfortunate, as fat-tail sheep, ubiquitous in
the Caucasus and Central Asia, are virtually unknown elsewhere. Maybe I
should have tried a Turkish halal butcher...


In this country, the tails of little lambs are cut off
in commercial production, the justification being that
nobody eats the tail so it's a waste of feed to grow one.


It is much more than mere tail in fat-tailed sheep. See
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3014/2473342838_a0b031fe1e.jpg?v=0.

Victor
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Old 12-04-2009, 07:27 AM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Mark Thorson wrote in news:49E0FF82.BC5525B5
@sonic.net:

Victor Sack wrote:

The recipe calls for tail fat
of a fat-tail sheep. This is a special fat, not really replaceable

by
anything else. This is unfortunate, as fat-tail sheep, ubiquitous in
the Caucasus and Central Asia, are virtually unknown elsewhere.

Maybe I
should have tried a Turkish halal butcher... The dish is very
interesting and phenomenally aromatic. For wine, I used Robert

Skalli
Viognier and served it at the table, too.


In this country, the tails of little lambs are cut off
in commercial production, the justification being that
nobody eats the tail so it's a waste of feed to grow one.


Fat-tail sheep are specific distinct breeds and I assume this is what
Victor is referring to. There is some small production of fat-tail sheep
in Australia, mostly I think crossed with Merino, to make sheep which
are more attractive to the Middle East market for live sheep exports.

--
Rhonda Anderson
Cranebrook, NSW, Australia

Core of my heart, my country! Land of the rainbow gold,
For flood and fire and famine she pays us back threefold.
My Country, Dorothea MacKellar, 1904



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Old 12-04-2009, 03:04 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Jean B. wrote:

Victor Sack wrote:
An alternative is to use bottled
tkemali sauce, the green variety if possible, which can often be found
at Russian groceries or on line. I had the red (actually brown in
colour) variety on hand, but the green one can be bought on line here.
Since the red variety is less tart (it is made of riper plums), I added
a splash of lemon juice.

Saved. I will have to venture to some eastern European stores in
search of that sauce--maybe brushing up on my Cyrillic alphabet
before I do.


The first five letters of "tkemali" look exactly like the corresponding
Latin ones, with the combination not used in any other word. So, no
brushing-up is really necessary. Of course, there is also the "green"
("zelyonyi") part, in case the actual colour does not make it obvious...

Victor
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Old 12-04-2009, 03:51 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Victor Sack wrote:
Jean B. wrote:

Victor Sack wrote:
An alternative is to use bottled
tkemali sauce, the green variety if possible, which can often be found
at Russian groceries or on line. I had the red (actually brown in
colour) variety on hand, but the green one can be bought on line here.
Since the red variety is less tart (it is made of riper plums), I added
a splash of lemon juice.

Saved. I will have to venture to some eastern European stores in
search of that sauce--maybe brushing up on my Cyrillic alphabet
before I do.


The first five letters of "tkemali" look exactly like the corresponding
Latin ones, with the combination not used in any other word. So, no
brushing-up is really necessary. Of course, there is also the "green"
("zelyonyi") part, in case the actual colour does not make it obvious...

Victor


Thanks again. I have made various such dishes in the past, but
toned down because of then-available ingredients, no doubt.
Instead of the plums, they might contain, for example, vinegar--or
unsweetened pomegranate juice.

--
Jean B.
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Old 12-04-2009, 09:20 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Victor Sack wrote:

Mark Thorson wrote:

In this country, the tails of little lambs are cut off
in commercial production, the justification being that
nobody eats the tail so it's a waste of feed to grow one.


It is much more than mere tail in fat-tailed sheep. See
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3014/2473342838_a0b031fe1e.jpg?v=0.


Ah, it's a euphemism.
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Old 12-04-2009, 10:59 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Jean B. wrote:

Thanks again. I have made various such dishes in the past, but
toned down because of then-available ingredients, no doubt.
Instead of the plums, they might contain, for example, vinegar--or
unsweetened pomegranate juice.


Yes, unsweetened pomegranate juice could be a plausible substitution,
maybe not vinegar, though, in this case.

Victor
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Old 12-04-2009, 11:06 PM posted to rec.food.cooking
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Default Easter lamb: chakapuli

Victor Sack wrote:
Jean B. wrote:

Thanks again. I have made various such dishes in the past, but
toned down because of then-available ingredients, no doubt.
Instead of the plums, they might contain, for example, vinegar--or
unsweetened pomegranate juice.


Yes, unsweetened pomegranate juice could be a plausible substitution,
maybe not vinegar, though, in this case.

Victor


That is pretty easy to find now--but I also have access to some
Eastern European stores, so I may now be able to do better than that.

--
Jean B.


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