Satsivi

Satsivi (chicken in walnut sauce) is probably one of the most famous Georgian chicken dishes.  It's a fairly simple recipe, but with very complex flavors.

One of the spices that I list is khmeli-suneli, which is actually a blend of spices.  Since most of the ingredients can easily be bought in the States, I will experiment with the right amounts to make your own khmeli-suneli (and other spice blends from the Caucasus) and post them soon. 
In the meantime, you can look for it at any of the Russian stores I've listed on the resources page.  Phoenicia will not have it, but it does have a huge selection of other spices.  

For the satsivi, make sure you have the following:
  • 2 lbs (1 kg) chicken breast
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • water
  • 4 cups shelled walnuts
  • garlic, minced (to taste - I used half a head)
  • 1.5 tsp khmeli-suneli
  • ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • salt and pepper





The chicken needs to be poached, so leave it whole for this step.  Heat a little olive oil in a dutch oven and add the chicken in a single layer.  Meanwhile, heat water in a kettle or separate pan. An electric kettle like the one pictured will boil water in a couple of minutes and save space on the stove.  And it makes tea so much easier!



 Brown on one side and then add the cinnamon stick, coriander seeds, cloves and bay leaf.



When the other side has browned, add hot water to cover the chicken.  Simmer, covered, for 12 minutes.  Take off the heat and let the chicken stand in the hot water another 10 minutes.  Then take the meat out and let it cool.  Discard the spices but save the broth.



While the meat is cooling, you can make the sauce.  Using a food processor, finely grind the nuts.  Depending on the size of the food processor bowl, it may need to be done in a couple of batches.

 Put the ground nuts back into a serving bowl.  


 Next, add the minced garlic.


 Begin to ladle some of the chicken broth into the nuts.  Go slow with this and mix in one ladle-full of liquid at a time.  Remember that the sauce will thicken somewhat as it cools, but you still don't want it to be soupy.  It should be just loose enough to coat the chicken completely.




 Check to see how easily it slides off of a spoon.  If it doesn't slide easily at all, add one more ladle of broth.




Now the sauce should slide smoothly off of the spoon.  Make sure there are no lumps.

When you have the texture right, you can start adding spices.

Pour in a teaspoonful of white vinegar.












Then mix in the khmeli-suneli.



 Sprinkle on as much cayenne pepper as you like.  I tend to only add a little since my three-year-old (to be known here as Bulldozer - an appropriate name in so many ways) will not eat anything spicy.  Except for pickled garlic cloves.


It does taste better with more spice, so if you aren't cooking for a kid, try it with a little more cayenne.

 Cut the cooled chicken into chunks.  Then add them to the sauce and toss to coat.  Salt and pepper to taste, and you're done!


To garnish, sprinkle with a little more red pepper or paprika and add a parsley leaf or two.  Satsivi is served cold and makes a great dish to take to picnics or other gatherings. Serve with a simple salad and crusty bread for getting the last of the delicious sauce! 

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