Oh, ostri. You chunky, spicy, hearty thing, you. From kharcho to lobio to chkhirtma to ajapsandali and back again, Georgia knows a thing or two when it comes to soups and stews. And ostri is king. While not found in the same popularity as those mentioned above, it’s easily in my top five favorite Georgian dishes. This ostri recipe especially perfect this time of year when it’s freezing cold out. Tbilisi has already had snow twice, and we are expecting a few more flurries in the coming days and weeks.
Another thing I love about ostri, is it’s pretty simple to make and doesn’t require too many ingredients not found outside the Caucasus, so it’s quite accessible. This stew is all about fresh ingredients and tender, juicy meat that’ll cook low and slow all day, leaving you with the most savory smelling house you can imagine. Its key characteristic is its spice, so don’t be shy on the pepper flakes, adjika, and chili pepper. This stew comes together with pretty basic ingredients, but the real star of the show is the beef, heat, and tomato.
1 kg beef stew meat such as clod or chuck
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 heaping tbsp adjika see notes for sub
4 bay leaves
1 heaping tbsp butter
2 medium onions chopped
4 medium tomatoes diced
1/2 tbsp tomato paste
1 whole chili (serrano preferred) chopped
1 tbsp crushed red chili flakes
1/2 tsp dried cilantro
4 medium garlic cloves minced or grated
1/4 cup diced pickles
1 bunch cilantro diced
1 bunch parsley diced
Trim excess fat from beef. Reserve around 1-2 tbsp of fat, dice up and heat in pan over medium heat with olive oil. (Save remaining trimmings for stir frys, tallow, rendering and more.)
Cut beef into 1 inch cubes. Season with salt and pepper, massage adjika into beef for one minute.
Once the fat has rendered down a bit, add in beef cubes and brown on all sides for 5-10 minutes.
Cover meat with 6 cups of water and add in bay leaves. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer for 2 hours. Check periodically that the meat is still covered with water and add 1/4 cup if needed.
Strain the remaining liquids and set aside.
Add beef back to heat and toss with butter. Add onion, chili pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes.
Add crushed red pepper, dried cilantro and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes.
Add tomato and tomato paste - let cook down for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add 3-4 cups of reserved juices and cook for 20 minutes.
Add chopped herbs and pickles. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Serve and garnish with chopped cilantro and chopped chili pepper.
Notes **if needed, substitute adjika with an additional tablespoon of crushed chilli flakes, pinch of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar.