One of my favorite things about Georgia is the remarkable diversity in regional cuisine. From Adjara’s dairy loaded dishes like sinori and Adjarian khachapuri to Samegrelo’s incredible use of spices in dishes like kharcho and kubdari – each region is full of its own unique culinary traditions. Racha, of course, is no exception. While the area is famous for its cured ham, Rachuli lori, and incredible bean dishes such as lobio lorit- there’s even more to the cuisine than that. Namely, shkmeruli. This deliciously creamy chicken dish comes from the teeny tiny village of Shkmeri sandwiched between the equally small villages of Usholta and Kharistvali. Like most Georgian dishes, this shkmeruli recipe is hearty, rich, and *loaded* with butter. In fact, butter, milk, chicken, and garlic are really all you need. So, modi!
1 1 kg whole chicken
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter
15 cloves garlic (trust me)
Wash and pat dry your chicken. Cut into 8 pieces - drumsticks, thighs, wings etc.
Season chicken with salt, pepper and two tablespoons of olive oil.
Add the remaining two tablespoons of oil to medium heat pan. Cook chicken in pan for 10 minutes on each side. Meanwhile preheat oven to 200C/400F
Add chicken to baking dish and bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes.
Peel and grate garlic. Add butter to stovetop saucepan and heat. Once melted, add garlic and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add milk, bring to a boil and reduce to low simmer for 5 minutes.
Place baked chicken into a new baking pan - traditionally Georgians will use a shallow clay pot (pictured) but alternatively cast iron works great.
Gently pour garlic sauce over the chicken and place back in oven for 5 minutes until crispy brown.
Serve & enjoy!
Notes There aren't really a ton of Georgian wines that go with shkmeruli as the garlic and cream are both too overbearing to pair so it's often enjoyed with some old school chacha. Otherwise, Rachans will occasionally pair it with a dry like Mujuretuli.