Georgian Venison Kubdari

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Georgia, which is located in between the Black and Caspian Seas, is a country well known for its stuffed breads. The most famous is khachapuri, a boat shaped bread stuffed with cheese and egg that has gained a lot of popularity recently. There are many more types found around the country though, most of which are regionally specific. Kubdari are meat-filled breads from the Svaneti region and are usually stuffed with a mixture of chopped pork and beef. I used chopped bottom round steaks from a whitetail leg instead, which worked beautifully. The meat is seasoned with a special salt blend also found in the Svaneti region. Many Georgian spices are difficult to find in North America, so I’ve listed some substitutions that will still result in a delicious product. This recipe will make more Svaneti salt than you need, so keep the remainder in a sealed jar and use it to season meats, potatoes, vegetables, eggs, or rice. 

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Yields: 2 stuffed breads
Serves: 4 as part of a meal

Ingredients:
For the dough:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon olive oil
For the Svaneti salt:
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon blue fenugreek or regular ground fenugreek
1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika or regular paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried marigold powder or turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced and smashed into a paste

For the filling:
12 ounces venison, bottom round, leg steak, or loin 
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Svaneti salt (see above)
1 teaspoon butter for garnish

Preparation:
For the dough:
1. Mix the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.
2. Make a well in the centre, then add the warm (not hot!) water.
3. Sprinkle the yeast into the water and let sit for 1 minute. 
4. Now, using a wooden spoon, mix everything together until a dough starts to form. If there is still a lot of flour left in the bottom of the bowl, add a small splash of water and mix it into the dough. 
5. Once a dough ball forms, start kneading it in the bowl with your clean hands, pressing it, flipping it, folding it, and pretty much beating it up, for about 3 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. 
6. Pour the olive oil into the bowl and tumble the dough around so the bowl and dough get slicked in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp towel and leave in a warm place for 1 hour. 
For the salt:
7. While the dough is rising, mix all of the spices (or all of them that you happen to have, it’s not the end of the world if you’re missing one or two) into a sealable container.
8. Add the salt and minced/smashed garlic and use your fingers and thumbs to really rub the spices into the garlic and vice versa, until you end up with a slightly damp, grainy spice mix. Set aside. 
For the filling:
9. Chop the venison into small pieces, no larger than 1/2 an inch.
10. Fry the onion in 1 teaspoon of olive oil until it begins to turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. 11. Let the onion mix cool, then add it and the raw meat to a medium bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of Svaneti salt and the other 2 teaspoons of olive oil and mix everything together very well. 
Putting it all together:
12. Preheat oven to 375°F and set rack in upper third of oven. 
13. Take out the dough and cut it in half. Cover one of the halves with the towel or plastic wrap while you’re working with the other half. 
14. Lightly flour a clean working surface and roll out the half ball of dough into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Pile half of the meat filling into the centre, then begin pulling up the edges, pleating them and squeezing them into the middle so that the meat is completely encased. It doesn’t have to be too pretty.
15. Gently press down on the stuffed dough with your full open hand, in order to flatten it to about 2” tall or so. Don’t press so hard that you squeeze out the filling or burst open the top. Repeat with the other dough ball. 
16. Set the stuffed dough balls onto a lightly oiled sheet pan or cast iron skillet and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until the tops are nice and golden.
17. Take out of the oven and put a 1/2 teaspoon of butter on top of each meat pie and let it melt over the top. Sprinkle a touch of salt over each of them and serve immediately. Enjoy!

Adam Berkelmans

Adam Berkelmans, also known as The Intrepid Eater, is a passionate ambassador for real food and a proponent of nose to tail eating. He spends his time between Ottawa and a cozy lake house north of Kingston, Ontario. When not cooking, he can be found hunting, fishing, foraging, gardening, reading, traveling, and discovering new ways to find and eat food.

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