Intensely flavorful and brimming with tradition, this classic Ethiopian dish tells young women when they are ready for marriage, and reminds married men to stay faithful to their wives. Visit the Why Did the Chicken Cross the Globe? series that inspired this recipe to find out more.
5 sticks unsalted butter (1 1/4 pounds)
4-5 medium red onions very finely chopped in a food processor or grated on a cheese grater, then chopped
4-5 garlic cloves
1-2 inch piece of fresh ginger
1/4 cup cold water
3-5 ounces berbere spice mix, store bought or homemade (see notes)
1/2 cup dry red wine such as a Zinfandel
1 chicken, 3-4 pounds, cut into pieces, skin removed (see notes)
4-6 hard boiled eggs (1 per person)
Plain yogurt or farmer's cheese for serving
Injera bread for serving (often available for take-out at Ethiopian restaurants; if this is not an option, other delicious choices are naan or pita bread, or rice, although they are not authentic)
1. Clarify the butter: cut it into chunks and add it to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. The butter will melt and white foam will develop across the top. Continue cooking until the foam subsides and the bubbling ceases, about 30-40 minutes. At this point, the milk solids are on the bottom of the pan, and the clarified butter is on the top. Pour the clarified butter into a measuring cup (you should have 2 cups) and discard the milk solids. Set aside.
2. Add the onions to a dry, heavy pot such as a Dutch oven, over medium heat. Stir occasionally as the water evaporates with the lid off, about 20-30 minutes, until the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pot.
3. As the onions cook, peel the garlic and use the very small holes of a grater, zester or rasp to grate the garlic cloves into a pulp, or use a garlic press. If you don't have any of these tools, mince the garlic as finely as possible. You should have about 2 Tablespoons. Peel the ginger and do the same with it. You should have about 1 Tablespoon of pulverized ginger.
4. When the onions begin to stick to the bottom of the pot, add the garlic and ginger and turn the heat to medium-low. Stir frequently to avoid burning and continue cooking for about 10 minutes with the lid off, allowing the mixture to darken.
5. Stir in the clarified butter, simmer for 15 minutes with the lid off, then add the water. Stir in about half the berbere mix, taste, and add more as desired. Berbere is used as a seasoning in Ethiopia, so adding it "to taste" is absolutely authentic. Depending on the components of your berbere (see notes below), you may wish to add somewhere between 1/2-1 cup. When you think you have the berbere seasoning just right, simmer for 15 minutes with the lid askew, then add the red wine and simmer for another 5 minutes with the lid off.
6. While the mixture simmers, prepare the chicken pieces by cutting 2-3 slits into the meat of each piece, perpendicular to the bone but not all the way down to the bone, to allow the flavorful sauce to better penetrate. When ready, add the dark-meat pieces to the sauce and turn the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 5 minutes with the lid on, then add the rest of the pieces. Turn all the pieces to be sure they are well covered by the sauce, then put the lid back on and simmer over low heat for 20-30 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.
7. While the chicken cooks, peel the hard boiled eggs and cut small wedges out of the whites of the eggs, stopping before you get to the yolk. (You can eat or discard the wedge pieces.)
Eating Ethiopian Style: It is traditional to scoop the meat into the injera along with a little yogurt or cheese and eat with your hands! Also, people feed each other with their hands as a gesture of love and generosity. It is traditional to serve the most honored person first this way, as a sign of respect.
8. When the chicken is fully cooked, carefully add the eggs to the Doro Wat and turn everything to be sure it is well-covered by the sauce. Simmer for about 5 minutes, until the eggs are heated through.
To serve in the traditional Ethiopian way, lay the injera on a large platter in the middle of the table and ladle the Doro Wat and yogurt or cheese onto the injera. Everyone helps themselves from the communal platter.