Two Georgian Recipes from Boris Portnoy

In December, Satellite Republic's Boris Portnoy made a Georgian-inspired lunch for me at his house in the Napa Valley. These are two of the dishes he cooked. To read about the lunch, see "In Napa, a Georgian Lunch with Boris Portnoy."

KUPATI SAUSAGES
By Boris Portnoy

Difficulty: Easy | Total Time: 2 hours | Active Time: 1 hour | Serves: 5 to 7 people

These sausages are typical of the countryside outside Tbilisi and in Georgia's Khakheti region. The recipe varies slightly from region to region: In the mountains, cooks add lamb to the pork; in Imeretia, they use pork liver and barberries instead of pomegranate.

INGREDIENTS
• 1 1/2 pounds pork shoulder
• 1 large onion, roughly chopped
• 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste (optional)
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• 2 cloves of garlic, minced
• 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, or I tablespoon dried dill
• 1 tablespoon ground coriander seed
• 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes [Portnoy uses Korean ones]
• 4 ounces pomegranate juice
• 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil for brushing the sausages
• 7 feet of sausage casings, or 1 1/2 pounds of caul fat

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Cut pork into small pieces, add onion, and pass through a meat grinder fitted with large holes. Add salt, black pepper, garlic, dill, coriander, chile flakes, and a little water. Mix thoroughly. Add pomegranate juice and mix.

2. Use pork intestines as sausage casings, or if you don’t have a stand mixer with stuffing attachment, use a pastry bag. (Alternately, shape the sausage mixture into hamburger-shaped patties and wrap with caul fat.) Soak the cleaned, washed casings (or caul fat) in cold water. Fill the casings, making sure not to fill too tight, otherwise your sausages will burst during cooking. Twist off sausages to measure 20-30cm (roughly 8-11 inches). Twist the sausage ends well or tie with string and dip into boiling water for 1 minute.

3. Take sausages out of the water, cool, and store in the fridge. Brush the kupati with vegetable oil and grill, or cook on all sides in fat in a hot skillet.

GEORGIAN EGGPLANT WITH WALNUT FILLING (BADRIJANI NIGVZIT)
By Boris Portnoy

Difficulty: Medium | Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Serves: 4 to 5 people

These are a staple of the Georgian table, varying only in the way cooks fold the eggplant slices around the filling, a way for cooks to add their own signature to the dish without varying the ingredients.

INGREDIENTS
• 2 Italian eggplants
• Kosher salt to taste
• Canola or grapeseed oil for frying
• 3 cups shelled walnuts
• 2 cloves of peeled garlic
• 2 ounces water
• 1 teaspoon red or white wine vinegar
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander seed
• 1/2 teaspoon ground fenugreek
• 1 teaspoon dried chile flakes [Portnoy uses Korean ones]
• For garnishing: 1/2 cup each cilantro and Italian parsley leaves, or pomegranate seeds

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Cut eggplant lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices. Sprinkle generously with salt and let stand at least 30 minutes. Rinse, pressing out any bitter juices that have leached out. Pat dry with paper towels.

2. Heat a thin layer of oil in a skillet over medium heat. Brown eggplant slices on both sides, working in batches so as not to crowd the pan. Add additional oil if the slices start to char or stick. When the slices are no longer stiff and turn a deep golden brown, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels. Continue until all the slices are fried. Set them aside to cool.

3. Make the filling: In a meat grinder or food processor, process walnuts to the consistency of coarse sand. Empty into a medium bowl. Grind garlic cloves and add to the walnut mixture. Add the water, vinegar, coriander, fenugreek, chile flakes, and salt to taste. Mix well.

4. Spread a generous layer of filling in the middle of each eggplant strip. Do a letter fold to enclose the filling and form a square. For shorter strips, fold the top and bottom ends like a clamshell. Arrange the stuffed eggplant on a dish with cilantro leaves and parsley or pomegranate seeds as a garnish.

Photos by Chris Rochelle / CHOW.com

John Birdsall is senior editor at CHOW. You can follow him on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.