Inspired by Derek, I ordered some berbere spice and koseret from ethiopianspices.com, and tonight I’m making Doro Wat, a spicy Ethiopian chicken stew. Like Derek, I love the stuff; along with Coq au Vin and Hoppin’ John, it’s one of my favorite dishes ever. Unfortunately, I’m not yet brave enough to try making the injera (soft flat pan-bread) with which it’s traditionally supposed to be served, so I’m committing the sacrilege of serving it with soft tortillas: terrible, I know. My recipe’s a little different from Derek’s (and I’m definitely going to have to try it his way), so I thought I might share it here. This uses 6 pounds of chicken, so serves plenty, but it’s easily halved, especially if you just put the unused portion of niter kebbeh in the freezer for next time. The berbere and koseret can be ordered from ethiopianspices.com, and koseret is substitutable; Googling will find you plenty of good recipes for homemade berbere.
1. Start by making niter kebbeh, the spiced clarified butter that’s a staple of so much excellent Ethiopian cooking.
1 cup (16 tablespoons, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter. (Land O’ Lakes is by far the best, because it has the least milk solids; it really does make a difference.)
2 tablespoons koseret (Dried Lippia Javanica, an African relative of lemon verbena — probably the easiest substitute is basil.)
.5 teaspoon cardamom
.5 teaspoon fenugreek
.5 teaspoon dried onion
.25 teaspoon turmeric
.25 teaspoon garlic powder
.25 teaspoon ginger
.25 teaspoon cinnamon
.25 teaspoon cloves
Cut the butter into small pieces so it’ll melt faster. Melt over very low heat and add spices. Let simmer (it should be bubbling, but barely) for 40 minutes or so, stirring often; the goal is to toast the spices without scorching the butter. Pour through a fine strainer and set the clear, liquid clarified butter aside; discard the solids from the strainer.
2. Marinate the chicken.
6 pounds chicken parts (I was more lazy than frugal tonight and bought boneless skinless chicken thighs.)
.5 cup lemon juice
3 teaspoons salt
Set it in the fridge to marinate for 30 minutes.
3. Make the berbere sauce.
.5 to .75 cup berbere powder, depending on how spicy you like it.
.5 to .75 cup dry red wine (I say use the cheapest stuff you can find, but stay away from that nasty supermarket salted cooking wine.)
.5 cup vegetable oil (I like canola oil best because it’s hard to burn and relatively tasteless.)
Combine in a small saucepan and heat to bubbling. Stir and remove from heat.
4. Put it all together.
6 sweet yellow spanish or vidalia onions, finely chopped (1 onion per pound of chicken.)
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped (1 clove per pound of chicken.)
.25 cup paprika (Yeah. That’s a lot of paprika. Probably best to use the mild variety the first time out, though I’ve been playing with substituting some of the spicy stuff, or some chipotle chili pepper, for part of the amount.)
1 cup water or chicken stock
.5 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chipotle or cayenne pepper
Heat the niter kebbeh and add the berbere sauce and paprika. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Add onion and garlic and sautee for 5 minutes, until the onion loses its raw smell. Add wine, chicken (with the marinade), spices, and water or stock. Cover and simmer 30-60 minutes or until chicken is tender and coming apart (you might help separate it with a fork, to make grabbing it with the injera or tortillas easier), stirring occasionally and adding water (or, as mine turned out tonight, removing the lid and letting it cook down for 15 minutes at a time if it’s too thin) as necessary to get the sauce to the consistency of cream.
For added authenticity, you could add whole hard-boiled eggs (1 per pound of chicken, pierced to the yolk with the tines of a fork) 10 minutes before it’s done, but I usually don’t bother: it’s good enough without them. It is, however, very spicy, with a sort of sustained heat that may startle folks whose familiarity with spicy foods has been primarily in the context of Latin American or Asian cuisines.