07/08/2011

Tchanakhi with Savoy Cabbage and Sauerkraut

Чанахи - Tchanakhi (or Chanakhi) is a Georgian dish of slow-cooked lamb and aubergine. That's Georgia the country, not the state in the US.

The ingredients are simple - lamb or mutton of any cut, aubergine, tomatoes, carrots, onion, garlic, parsley and pototoes. Potatoes? Yes! Generally, we'd leave them out of a paleo diet given the high insulin response that is generated, but some people might be okay with leaving them in.

My local Russian Restaurant http://www.rurest.co.uk uses Tkemali in their Tchanakhi - a Georgian plum sauce of both red and green cherry plums, garlic, coriander, dill, cayenne pepper and salt. It should be pungently sour!

Savoy cabbage is a no-brainer - pack full of great vitamins, a really good chew and a damn good flavour to put with a heavy stew of meat and vegetables.

Sauerkraut is a superb source of probiotics in the paleo diet; yoghurt, another, although not all paleo people partake of dairy, some do, but only fermented dairy. Sauerkraut provides a wide spectrum of probiotics which will boost the beneficial bacteria in your gut.

To the kitchen ...

Put a casserole dish next to your chopping board - a crock pot or slow cooker would do; just something with a lid. We're going to layer the ingredients in, so read on and take your time - no cooking is required at this point.

Place pieces of lamb of mutton as a base for the dish, cut into manageable pieces - this should be about half of the content of the dish as a whole. Pour over some Tkemali and shower with chopped parsley. If you're going to make your own Tkemali, just stone the plums and add all the ingredients to a blender, adding a little water if necessary to make a pouring sauce.

Chop an onion and layer over. Slice up some carrots into thin slices of a couple of millimetres and layer over the lamb. Grind a little black pepper over at this point.

Cube up aubergine and layer over the top - these vegetables make up the other half of the dish. Shower more parsley over.

Drop in ten or fifteen good dollops of tomato puree into the dish and if the lamb was lean, place a good spoonful of fat in the middle of the dish - lard, tallow or bacon grease is all good.

Make up a beef stock and add some minced garlic before pouring over the dish which should just cover it. Loosen the tomato puree into the sauce.

Lid on ... oven set to 180C for an hour and then drop the heat to 120C for a couple more hours.

The sauce will reduce as it cooks, but if a thicker sauce is required simply add a little arrowroot stirred in a few minutes before serving ... best, made into a liquid with a splash of vodka!

While my local Russian Restaurant serves this with creamy mashed potatoes on the side, serving over strong green vegetables such as thick cabbage or tenderstem broccoli is superb. Topped with a good helping of sauerkraut and you have a perfect paleo meal!

Sadghegrdzelo!

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