Thursday, August 22, 2013
Doro Wat, a blisteringly hot Ethiopian chicken stew. (Yes, they do have food in Ethiopia.)
I’m not sure where I found the link to this site, given that I’m not a practitioner of a paleolithic-style diet, but the idea of a mouth-tinglingly spicy chicken dish was irresistible. I had to give it a try.
Probably the first time I had heard of Doro Wat was when I read Steve Graham’s infamous cookbook, Eat All You Want and Die Like a Man. Any dish worth a chapter in that particular Monument to Wretched Excess was certainly capable of piquing my interest, not to mention my tastebuds. So when I was reintroduced to it by nom nom paleo, I simply ignored all of the Caveman Prescriptives and focused on the recipe.
A couple of ingredients caught my eye. One was berbere, an incendiary mix of hot chile peppers, fenugreek, allspice, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and Gawd knows what else. I was in the happy position of having a small jar of berbere in my pantry, a freebie I had gotten at the local Penzeys spice shop.
Another was ghee, which - despite its fearsome sounding Indian name - is nothing other than clarified butter, the kind of stuff you’d use for dipping chunks of lobster. It’s easy enough to make, and if you’re too lazy to melt a bunch of butter, you can simply buy the damn stuff. You don’t even need to refrigerate it.
The basic procedure: Caramelize a pile of red onions, add spices, dump in some chicken stock, shove the chicken into the pot, and simmer for an hour or two. I like to do this in a Dutch oven, which allows me to stick the whole thing into the “oven oven” at 325-350°F, where it can sit unmolested for a couple of hours. Got a slow cooker? That’ll work just fine.
These red onions have been slowly caramelizing in melted ghee for about an hour... and there’s now some grated ginger, minced garlic, and a buncha berbere to keep it company.
As an added touch, the dish is garnished with halved hard-boiled eggs before serving... no doubt so that the chicken’s entire life cycle is represented. Weird but tasty.
How was it? It was delicious. The chicken was tender and spicy, providing a gentle burn at the back of the throat. (She Who Must Be Obeyed was happy with the spice level right where it was; I could have jacked it up a few more notches.) Meanwhile, the onions and broth cooked down into a delightfully savory sauce.
As for the paleolithic diet business, I personally do not give Shit One about eating like a troglodyte. But I know tasty when I taste it... and I’ll be tasting this stuff again.