Chicken Stew (Doro Wett)

by Chef Marcus Samuelsson

This recipe comes to TableFare from Chef Marcus Samuelsson as part of his contribution to Spice Inspirations.

Chicken Stew (Doro Wett)

6 servings

When I take people out for Ethiopian food for the first time, this chicken stew, called doro wett (also spelled doro we't, doro wot, and doro wet), is a great introduction. It's the first Ethiopian dish I ever had, and I immediately liked the tender meat, the spicy eggs,and the flavorful sauce laced with berbere and ginger. It's a great dish to make for people who haven't eaten African food before because it's easy to understand and like.

Don't be alarmed when the sauce doesn't bind together and thicken like a traditional European-style sauce—it should in fact be liquidy and broken to soak into the injera it is served on.

2 medium red onions, diced
1/4 cup Spiced Butter (recipe follows) or 4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
One 1 ½-inch piece ginger, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon Berbere or chile powder
2 ½ cups chicken stock, divided
One 4-to-5 pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces, wings reserved for another use
1/4 cup dry red wine
Juice of 1 lime
2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled

Combine the onions, a pinch of salt and half of the spiced butter in a Dutch oven or other large deep pot over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are golden, about 15 minutes. Add the remaining butter, the cardamom, black pepper, cloves, garlic, ginger, and berbere and cook until the onions soften and take on the color of the spices, about 10 minutes.

Add 2 cups of chicken stock and the chicken legs and thighs, bring to a simmer, and simmer for 15 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup chicken stock and the wine, bring back to simmer and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chicken breasts and simmer for 20 minutes.

Gently stir in the lime juice and eggs and simmer for another 5 minutes. The sauce will be loose and soupy. Season with salt to taste.

Spiced Butter

Makes 1 ½ cups

The spiced mixture known as nit'ir quib, which begins with clarified butter, is kept handy in most Ethiopian kitchens to add flavor to meat and vegetable stews. In fact, virtually no meal in Ethiopia is made without nit'ir quib, which gives the cooking its beautifully layered signature flavors. You see clarified butter used in many different cuisines—French, Indian, Asian, Middle Eastern—because removing the milk solids lets you cook over much higher heat without burning. It also has the added bonus of having a much longer shelf life than regular butter—an important consideration in poor man's cooking, where waste is not an option. The butter will solidify when chilled, but it will become liquid again when left at room temperature.

1 pound unsalted butter
1/2 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
One 3-inch piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
8 basil leaves

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently. As foam rises to the top, skim and discard it. Continue cooking, without letting the butter brown, until no more foam appears.  Add the onion, garlic, ginger, fenugreek, cumin, cardamom, oregano, turmeric, and basil and continue cooking for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and let stand until the spices settle. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve before using.

Store in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container for up to 3 weeks.

Reprinted with permission from the book The Soul of a New Cuisine by Marcus Samuelsson. Copyright © 2006 by Marcus Samuelsson. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Hoboken, New Jersey.