This is doro wat, arguably the national dish of Ethiopia, and a dish close to my heart. I once worked in an Ethiopian restaurant called the Horn of Africa in Madison, Wisconsin. This was by far the most popular dish. It is normally done with old chickens, and pheasants or grouse are great alternatives.
There are a few esoteric ingredients in this recipe that you really must have. Sorry, but this is what makes Ethiopian food special. The good news is that some ingredients, like the berbere spice mix, can be found in some fancy supermarkets, online, or made by hand. And the niter kebbeh butter is easily made, and lasts for many months in the fridge; forever in the freezer.
So once you get yourself set up, making this recipe is much easier. Traditional doro wat is made with t’ej, an Ethiopian mead. If you have some mead lying around, use it. Red wine is another traditional alternative.
Note that most recipes for doro wat will add even more berbere than I do, but be warned: It’s hot stuff!
Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail
by Hank Shaw
Soak the grouse in the lime juice for an hour, and up to overnight.
In a large, heavy pot, add the sliced onions and turn the heat to medium. Cook the onions dry, stirring frequently. They will give up their water, wilt, and eventually brown.
When the onions are close to browning, add the spiced butter, the garlic and ginger. Cook another minute or three. Add the tomato paste, berbere, black pepper, cardamom, fenugreek and mead. Mix well.
Add the grouse pieces and turn to coat. Cook another few minutes, until the meat turns opaque.
Pour in the stock and mead or wine. You want all the meat to be covered by about an inch; add water if you need to. Bring to a simmer, taste for salt, cover the pot and cook gently until the meat is tender, typically about 2 hours. The sauce should have cooked down a lot by now, and add a little water if it gets thicker than gravy.
When you are about 15 minutes out from serving, add the hard-boiled eggs to the pot. You can either strip all the meat from the bones or leave it as-is. Serve with rice, bread or the Ethiopian crepes called injera.
Ethiopian Spiced Butter
I love this butter so much I use it far beyond Ethiopian dishes. If you use it in curry, it will add another layer of awesome. And, as I mentioned, it will keep for months in the fridge, and years in the freezer.
Toast the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in a dry pan over medium heat until they are aromatic, about a minute. Cut the butter into cubes.
Toss everything into a heavy pot and turn the heat on low. Let this come to a bare simmer and cook gently for at least 30 minutes. We cooked ours at least an hour. It is vital that the milk solids do not burn. If they do, you have ruined the butter. Watch for browning, and when you see it, turn off the heat.
Strain through cheesecloth and store in a clean glass jar. It'll last 6 months in the fridge, at least a week on the counter, and forever in the freezer.
Berbere, Ethiopian Spice Mix
This is some serious stuff. Complex, fragrant, hotter than hell. It is to Ethiopian food what masala is to Indian: indispensable. Once made, it will keep a year in the cupboard.
Note that rue seed and ajwain are very hard to find. I include them for authenticity’s sake.
Mix all the ingredients together and store in a cool, dark place.
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Recipe reprinted with permission from Pheasant, Quail, Cottontail by Hank Shaw. Copyright 2018 H&H Books.