Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken Ajmoht (chicken ragout, kurji ajmoht, obara)

This recipe is based on what the Progressive Slovene Women of America call chicken ragout.  Like true scholars, they carefully list those alternative names you see below.  My changes were minimal.  I used chicken breasts instead of a whole cut-up chicken.  I increased the vegetables and the seasonings.

We found this to be a very tasty dish, with a subtle kind of tang.  Much more to it than I expected from the simple recipe.  Next time, I might increase the seasonings and the vegetables even more.

There was one dissenting voice.  My mother.  I froze a single serving and delivered it to her the next week.  She never mentioned it, so I finally asked.

She didn't mince words.   "Not good."

Why not?

"It wasn't like a soup."

I explained that it wasn't  supposed to be a soup.  More like a ragout.  But she recalled that veal soup of her childhood.  And she didn't like the little chicken bones she discovered.  

(I'm still waiting for her verdict on the žganci!)

Chicken Ajmoht  (chicken ragout, kurji ajmoht, obara)

2+ lbs. chicken breasts, with bone and skin, cut up
2 T. olive oil
2 quarts water (about)
2  ribs celery, chopped
½ onion, chopped
4 T. fresh parsley, minced
1 T. fresh marjoram, minced
roux:  2 ½ T. flour, 2 ½ T  olive oil and butter mixed
salt and pepper to taste
white wine vinegar to taste

Heat oil in a dutch oven and add onion and celery.  Brown vegetables.  Add chicken and seasonings and continue to brown  Add water to cover and simmer, covered, for 45 minutes or until tender.  In a separate pan, make a roux, cooked to medium brown.  Add to the pot and stir well.  Add remaining water, white wine vinegar, and adjust seasonings.  Simmer about 15 minutes more.  Sprinkle with additional parsley.  Serve with dumplings, noodles, or (if you dare!) žganci.

A word about roux:  None of my vintage cookbooks belabor the process, because it is so fundamental.  You heat shortening of your choice ("oleo or fat" was the original in this recipe.)  Then you stir in flour and keep stirring as it browns.   We figured that the final color should be browner than a pale American cream sauce, but not quite the deep brown of a Louisiana roux.

Full disclosure:  I  put my husband in charge of making the roux.  He is locally famous for his Louisiana gumbo, so I knew he would do it right.

Besides, at that point in the proceedings, I needed all the help I could get.  I was elbow deep in the žganci.

Update: Almost a year later, I made a second attempt at this tasty dish, with a few more vegetables and a splash of red wine.  Curious?  Take a look at my Chicken Ajmoht II recipe! 

2022 10th Anniversary Update: Gave it a try with chicken thighs and it came our very well, with a slightly heartier flavor.


  1. My name is Liz and so glad you're back blogging. I'm in Cleveland(Slovene mother/Bohemian father) and used to live in California too with a folk singer/epidemologist roommate. I just am not good with computers so couldn't figure out how to comment.

  2. Nice to hear from you, Liz! Thank you for reading and commenting. Where did you live in California?


  3. It is so nice to meet you dear foody friend! I was born and raised in Slovenia, and decided to conquer the world when I was 20 years old. Since than I lived in Scandinavia, Middle East, and now for 6 years in USA. I'm so glad you liked my recipes. I love love love ajmoht, but back home my mom always made it with rabbit meat, as my grandafther was raising rabbits. If you have any chance to find some rabbit meat, do try it, it gives ajmoht a total different indulging experience and layers of flavors.
    Happy Valentines Day ^_^

  4. Hi, I'm from Slovenia and my husband is making Ajmoht or Obara from chicken gizzards. We also make žganci and eat Ajmoht with žganci. I learned to make žgance from him, but I make it Koroški way (cooked without water). Most of Slovenians make it Gorenjski way (cooked in water)

    1. Hi there!
      Thanks for writing. I especially love to hear from readers in Slovenia :-) I am still trying to understand how to make žganci look like little dumplings. Which way is that, Koroški or Gorenjski? And how would you make this without water??