The end of September brings the first of the apples, quince and winter squash. For many folks, dishes like pork chops with cinnamon apples, butternut squash soup and roasted root vegetables keep the kitchen (and bellies!) warm as the weather cools.
For me, though, the quintessential "first meal" of fall is Ab Goosht, a Persian dish that translates literally to "Meat Water". It's typically considered peasant food, but I can hardly think of a better way to herald in the fall.
The region of Azerbaijan is typically considered to have the best Ab Goosht anywhere--I haven't a clue to their secret, though I will say that they are known to cook theirs over very low heat for 8-10 hours. I can't pull that off at home, so I've refined a recipe that I can put together on a Sunday afternoon.
It's actually 2 dishes in one -- a broth to be used for soaking bread (Teeleet) and a "mash" of meat, potatoes and beans (Goosht Koobideh). At the first indication of colder weather, I make a big batch of Ab Goosht to freeze for the coming winter months.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 lbs lamb or beef shanks, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes
- 1 can garbanzo beans or 1 c. dried (soaked)
- 1 can Roman or cannelini beans or 1 c. dried (soaked)
- Juice from 1 lime
- 3-4 small red potatoes, peeled
- 2-3 dried limes (leemoo-amonee)
- In a large dutch oven or stew pot over medium-high heat, fry the onions in a bit of vegetable oil until slightly golden.
- Add the meat, and add just enough water to cover.
- Add the turmeric, onions, garlic and tomatoes . Season to taste with salt & pepper. (If using dried beans, add them now).
- Bring up to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 1 hour.
- Add the canned beans, potatoes, lime juice and dried limes. Cook, covered, an additional 30-60 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through and the meat is falling off the bone.
- At this point, strain the liquid from the pot and set aside.
- Once the meat has cooled, remove the bone(s), and using a potato masher or large wooden spoon, smash everything together. Season with salt & pepper, and a bit more lime juice, if desired.
Serve the broth and mash in separate bowls; use pita or lavash bread for soaking in the broth and for scooping bits of the mash.