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Shemtsvari Tsitsila Sunelebshi

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    Posted: 28 March 2018 at 12:12
Shemtsvari Tsitsila Sunelebshi
Georgian Game Hens in Herb Sauce

This recipe comes from Brook's exploration into Georgian Cuisine, which surely includes some of the oldest foodways in Western Civilization:

I've been wanting to try many recipes from his thread, but this one was a natural first, mostly because we had the ingredients on hand and there was nothing there that would be too "exotic" for the family as an introduction to the cuisine.

Originally posted by Brook Brook wrote:

(Georgian Game Hens in Herb Sauce)

There’s no reason to not make this dish with regular chicken, if you prefer. If so, adjust the other ingredients to the weight of the bird.

2 game hens     
3/4 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup sour cream     
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp powdered marigold     
1 tsp dried coriander
1/4 tsp cinnamon     
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste     
Cilantro for garnish

Preheat oven to 400F. Roast the game hens for 35-40 minutes, basting often. Cut into serving pieces. Prepare the sauce by mixing the mayonnaise, sour cream, garlic, spices and salt together. Add 1-2 tablespoons of water to thin the sauce if necessary.

Put the pieces of game hen (or chicken) into a shallow bowl and pour the herb sauce over it. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

We were able to try this last night, with a couple of minor substitutions:

Instead of game hens, we roasted one whole roasting chicken, with nothing but basic seasonings and a little occasional basting, now and then.

Instead of cilantro, we garnished with a little parsley and chives.

We did not have any powdered marigold, so we substituted with Georgia's quintessential spice mix, Khmeli-Suneli; recipe can be found here:

The ingredients for this recipe, other than the poultry and the garnish, make up a sauce for the chicken. After consulting a bit with Brook, I decided to double the sauce recipe due to the fact that a chicken is bigger than two game hens. An important exception to the doubling of the sauce was the Khmeli-Suneli, which I left at the original amount; in effect, if one uses Khmeli-Suneli as a substitute for powdered marigold, use half the amount of Khmeli-Suneli that you would use if using powdered marigold, to keep things in balance.

This recipe was very easy to prepare, as you can see. When the chicken was just about finished, we prepared the sauce, which was reminiscent of (but completely unique from) Greek tzatziki; it reminded me of a combination of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing and tzatziki, but I must stress that it has its own flavor, completely independent from either of these condiments.

And what flavor! It was really tasty, fresh and memorable - simply outstanding. It went perfectly with the chicken, but I could easily see it being used for other applications, as well. We had some sauce left over, so I put it in a small container into the refrigerator, and will see what else it will work well with; off the top of my head, I think that it would be wonderful for almost any fish, lamb and probably grilled venison.

I can easily recommend this recipe, either as written or with the slight modifications that I made. I am confident that any who try this will enjoy it, very much, and plan to prepare it again. Beyond that, I'll also look to try more Georgian recipes, as they definitely know how to prepare good food!

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