Asproyiachni vergadi is the second most representative dish of the Aigialeia region, the first being codfish plaki (oven-baked with onions and tomatoes, sometimes with potatoes). Vergadi is the local word for a yearling goat, while asproyiachni is the method of cooking it – simmered in a white (aspro) sauce.
The word yiachni comes from the Turkish ‘yahni’ which means to steam, and has come to describe foods that are stewed, with sauteed onion at the start and later simmered with a little water or other liquid.
The yiachni, the most common mode of stove-top cooking in the country, produces simple, humble dishes in which ingredients are added one after another, depending on the length of time required to cook each, rather than all stirred in at the same time. As simple as that. Usually the dish will begin with sauteeing chopped onion over low heat, followed by the meat, vegetables, and tomatoes.
Recipe for Asproyiachni Vergadi
- 2-3 kg yearling goat, preferably the shoulder, in serving pieces (if you can’t find goat, lamb will do)
- 8-10 medium onions, chopped
- 1 cup olive oil
- salt & pepper
- ½ cup fresh tomato juice
Wash the meat and place them in a large saucepan with water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat. Pour off the water and replace the meat in the saucepan with 2 cups of water and the chopped onions. Cover and simmer. As soon as most of the water has been absorbed, add the oil and seasonings and saute the onions and the meat until lightly browned. Then pour in the tomato juice – bearing in mind that the sharp taste is more important than the colour, since after all this is meant to be a white stew! And continue cooking until the meat is tender and the onions have melted into the juices.