Georgian Beef Kharcho
Tender brisket in a spicy, walnutty braise.
4 hours 20 minutes
Kharcho is a catch-all term for spicy Georgian beef stew. Though it hails from the Black Sea region of Mingrelia, today it’s a staple across many former Soviet countries. Some versions are brothy and flecked with rice, while others, like this one served at Salobie Bia in Tbilisi, are ultra-thick and all about the ground walnuts and spices. Chef Giorgi Iosava ladles his kharcho over creamy millet porridge, a comforting counterpart to the punchy, piquant stew.
Featured in “The Walnut Whisperers of Georgia,” by Benjamin Kemper.
- 2 lb. beef brisket, trimmed and cut into 1-in. pieces
- Kosher salt
- 3 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, finely chopped (2 cups)
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Pinch ground cloves
- 3 medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped, or ¾ cup canned crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups (8 oz.) walnuts, lightly toasted
- 1 tsp. Aleppo pepper or crushed red chile flakes, or more to taste
- 1 tsp. ground coriander seeds, preferrably Georgian ground coriander seeds
- 1 tsp. ground fenugreek seeds, preferably Georgian blue fenugreek ground fenugreek
- ½ tsp. ground dried marigold petals (aka Georgian “saffron”), or ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
Using paper towels, pat the beef dry, then season generously with salt. To a large heavy-bottomed pot over high heat, add the oil. When it’s hot and shimmering, add half of the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate, then repeat with the remaining beef and set aside.
Turn the heat to medium-high, then, to the same pot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking until softened, about 2 minutes more. Turn the heat to high and add the reserved beef, bay leaf, and cloves. Add hot water to cover the meat by one inch, then bring to a full boil. Turn the heat down to medium-low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat flakes when nudged with a fork, 3–3½ hours.
Meanwhile, to the bowl of a food processor, add the walnuts, Aleppo pepper, coriander, fenugreek, marigold, and ½ cup warm water, and blend until smooth.
Once the meat is tender, add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Stir in the walnut mixture and cook until the cooking liquid has slightly thickened and is a golden brown color, about 10 minutes more . Season with salt to taste, and serve.