Happy New Year to all!!!!
We decided to celebrate this New Year with an Abgusht party. Ab is Farsi and translates to water (in this case broth) gusht translates to meat. Abgusht is a traditional working man’s type of meal, the type of thing we would think of as a farmers meal – heavy, carb and protein loaded, fuel up type of meal that might be served at mid-day. For my husband’s family of first generation Iranians that came to this country about 30 years ago this has become a delicacy evoking a lot of memories of home. Over the years Abgusht parties have been a “Drop everything, come as you are we’re making Abgusht so get over here now!” type of thing. Our party was a planned New Year Day event but in the past I have seen people leave weddings, their Saturday chores, pool parties you name it to show up and have Abgusht.
This meal is cooked in a huge pot filled with 6 or 7 lamb shanks, tomatoes, potatoes, 2 or 3 different types of beans lots of onion and garlic. We simmer the pot for about 4 hours the night before and then simmer it again the next day. When all the meat is tender and falls off the bones everything is separated from the broth. The meat potato and beans mixture gets mashed and becomes something like mashed potatoes. This “gusht” or paste mixture is served along side lavash, pita or other types of bread with a pile of sabzi (mixture of fresh herbs) and a variety of pickles or torshi. The broth is served in a separate bowl and the whole taste sensation is amazing! Our guys like to pile on pickled garlic and onions – this always means there will be little kissing later and for sure Matt sleeps in the spare bedroom!
For me the best part of the Abgusht party is the mashing. Such a large pot means that this activity is best done on the kitchen floor, so we spread out towels and set the pot down. Of course everyone is very opinionated and feels that theirs is the perfect mashing technique that is called for in this situation and so it always attracts the whole group, there is lots of laughter and with the added cocktails, it makes for a great time and it gets everyone involved.
I have a recipe below that serves 6; we make a much larger pot as we end up having between 15 and 20 people at these events. This is a great rainy Saturday evening type of dinner that is good to cook when you are home and can let it stew for a good long time. Have fun and give this a try.
Abgusht (Persian Lamb Shank Stew with Meat Paste)
2 pounds lamb shank and 1-pound lamb breast
2 large onions quartered
6 cups water
1 can white canellie beans
1 can chick peas or garbonzo beans
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
4 peeled tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 whole Limou-omanie* pierced or ¼ cup lemon juice
In a large pot, place the meat onion and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil, add the turmeric, salt & Pepper – cover and let simmer for at least 2 hours over a low heat.
Add the potatoes, all the beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, cinnamon and the lemon juice and let simmer for another 30 minutes over low heat.
Remove all of the stew ingredients from the pot using a slotted spoon. Reserve the broth on the side. Remove all the meat from the bones. Mash the meat and the veggie - potato mixture to make a paste that has the consistency of mashed potatoes. Season this to taste with salt & pepper and serve on a platter.
Serve the broth in a bowl along side of the gusht. Set your table with a mixture of Sabzi – fresh herbs: mint, watercress, scallions, tarragon, raddishes and basil – I also add cilantro. I’ll have to do a post on Sabzi soon to properly introduce you. You could just serve it with fresh greens such as a good head of lettuce and lots of pickles. Enjoy this and be proud of yourself that you tried something new!
*Limou-omani are dried limes that you can find in a Persian market but if you have no Persian or International market near you, you can use fresh lemon juice, that works just as well.
Happy New Year to you all!