Azu (Turkic meat and potato stew)

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This is my dad’s specialty – a meat and potato stew-like dish of Turkic origin. He has like 2 things in his repertoire (this Azu and a seafood stew) so it’s always a treat. The meat cooks for 6+ hours until it melts in your mouth. The pickles add a nice sour fresh bite and the raisins round it out with some sweetness. A perfect dish on a cold winter day! Open-mouthed smile

Ingredients (makes 6-8 servings)

1.75 lbs stew meat, cut into 2” chunks 2-2.5 lbs potatoes 1/2 lb pickles 3 oz tomato paste 1/2 can crushed tomatoes (approx. 7 oz) 1/2 cup raisins salt, pepper, sugar to taste oil for frying

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1. Quickly brown beef over medium-high heat. Do not cook through.

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Meatballs in pomegranate sauce (fesinjan kyufta)

On weekends, I like trying new, a little more time-consuming recipes… there is definitely no shortage of those! This weekend, while perusing my Please to the Table cookbook, the Azerbaijani (I think) meatballs in pomegranate sauce recipe jumped out at me. Hey, pomegranates are seasonal right? I have to say this concept of seasonality is relatively new to me. According to my memory, when I was growing up we had a few dozen recipes on rotation and that was it. An occasional fruit would appear in the summer but we didn’t really cook with it. The good news is that these days I can recreate the recipes any time and they will feel right. The bad news, now that I’m really into eating locally and seasonally (as much as possible), I want my food to reflect that. Even “Russian” food.

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This is not one of the recipes I grew up eating. It’s a new recipe I’m testing out as part of my quest to learn more about the culture through food.

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