Mtsvadi

Elena Heatherwick

The secret of beautiful Kakhetian barbecued pork is to use the highest quality meat and cooking it over grape vine coals gently but with confidence. Georgians in general prefer breeding animals that can take care of themselves and feed themselves on wild plants growing around them. That’s why you won’t see too many people breeding rabbits or so I have been told – too much work! It is essential that you source the best possible meat for this dish. Try sourcing some wood chips to use for your barbecue to replicate at least a tiny bit of its beauty. Or ask a friend with an allotment if there are any vines around. I have, and now I make it in London in the summer!

  • 800g pork fillet or neck (which I prefer as it has more fat), chopped into large chunks
  • red or white wine mixed with salt for basting (1L wine to 2 tbsp salt)
  • 2 large breads or good-quality fresh flatbreads (any you can easily find)

Garnish:

  • 2 mild onions, thinly sliced and soaked in icy water
  • 1 pomegranate, half juiced and half seeds kept intact
  • a handful of chopped coriander
Thread the pork onto your metal skewers.
Take a big bunch of dry vine twigs and light them, making sure you keep some in reserve in case the fire dies down and you need to feed it. They will. Burn quickly and fiercely, and will produce quite a bit of smoke, so warn your neighbours if you are doing this in the city. Let the twigs burn down to coals. The meat should be quite close to the coals, and the coals glowing intensely. If they should start burning when the meat is over them, douse the fire with a touch of water.
Meanwhile mix some salt into red or white wine for basting, 2 tbsp of salt to 1 litre of wine.
Cook the skewers over the vine embers, turning every so often and basting with the salted wine from time to time. This can take from 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the meat pieces and the heat of the embers. The meat, when ready, should be caramelised at the edges and just cooked and juicy inside.
Now the best part. Grab one of the breads and over a large bowl use it to slide the meat off one of the skewers and into the bowl. Then put it inside the bowl and use the other bread to take off the rest of the meat.If you did the meat right, it will still be so juicy, the best part of the meal will be the meat-juice-soaked bread.
Drain the onions well and season them with salt. Pour the pomegranate juice over them, sprinkle with coriander and pomegranate seeds and serve with the meat and some chopped garden vegetables.

TIP: If you cannot find grape vines, try using some fruit tree chips. It makes such a big difference to the flavour of the meat.