Goat and Dates in Baked Yoğurt

Elbasan Tava

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    4

Appears in

Anatolia

By David Dale and Somer Sivrioglu

Published 2015

  • About

Along with cubed and deep-fried spiced liver, this goat stew is one of two famous Albanian dishes that influenced the cuisine of Anatolia. It is named after the city of Elbasan, which means ‘crushing fist’, presumably because Mehmet II built a huge fortress there to keep the Albanians under control in the fifteenth century.

Strangely, you’d have a hard time finding either this dish or the fried liver in modern Albania, where waiters are inclined to say ‘They do that in Turkey—we don’t do it any more’. It’s their loss. If you can’t find goat, use lamb.

Ingredients

  • 835 g (1 lb 13 oz) plain yoğurt
  • 3 French shallots (eschalots)
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) goat (shoulder meat)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 12 dates, pitted
  • 500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) beef stock
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 450 g (1 lb/3 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • mixed cress salad, to serve (optional)

Method

Place the yoğurt on a sheet of muslin (cheesecloth) and tie up the corners. Hang the muslin over a pot overnight to allow the yoğurt to thicken.

Quarter the French shallots. Finely chop the garlic. Remove any fat from the goat shoulder and cut the meat into 3 cm ( in) cubes. Melt the butter in a frying pan over high heat. Add the meat and fry for 2 minutes, turning to evenly brown. Add the shallots and fry for 2 minutes. Add the garlic, peppercorns, salt, basil and bay leaf and fry for 2 minutes. Add 250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) of water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes. It should reduce and thicken. Pour the goat stew into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the dates over the stew.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4).

Gently warm the stock in a saucepan to about 35°C (95°F). Put the egg yolks in a bowl. Sift in the flour and whisk. Add the flour mixture to the yoğurt. Stir in the beef stock. Warm the yoğurt mixture over low heat, constantly whisking, but remove it from heat as soon as you see bubbles forming (you do not want it to boil). Pour the mixture over the meat and add the paprika. Place the casserole dish in the oven and bake for 40 minutes.

Serve in the casserole dish at the table with a mixed cress salad, for people to help themselves.