Like it’s more traditional counter parts the Ethiopian chicken stew employs slow cooking method over low heat to render the collagen in the meat into succulent gelatin. One of the big challenges with this dish is finding the traditional African spices that give Ethiopian cuisine its warm reputation.
Rather than send you scouring the internet for exotic spices like berbere, korerima or wot kimem, this recipe employs spices and ingredients you can find in the American market.
This recipe uses the Maillard reaction to punch up the flavors in the final broth by searing the meat and sautéing some of the key ingredients and spices. Browning these ingredients early on creates powerful flavor compounds that give the final stew more depth of flavor.
This recipe also employs wine to help unlock some of the alcohol soluble flavor compounds. The alcohol releases these compounds. It then evaporates through the course of the slow cooking leaving the alcohol soluble compounds in the broth. It’s important to note that while most of the alcohol evaporates not all of it does. If you have an aversion to alcohol or adhere strictly to the Paleo philosophy of zero alcohol in your diet you can replace the wine with chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
4 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
2 tablespoons of melted duck fat
1 medium red onion, chopped
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
4 cloves of minced garlic
1 tablespoon of ground ginger root
1 teaspoon of cardamom
2 tablespoons of chili powder
½ teaspoon of nutmeg
1 tablespoon of fenugreek
3 cups of chicken stock
2 cups of medium red wine (Shiraz or Pinot Noir)
2 cups of water
4 hardboiled eggs
Fresh cracked black pepper
Here is how to make Perfect Ethiopian Chicken Stew
Step 1: Working in batches, pat the chicken skin dry, then rub a modest amount of salt and pepper on both sides of the thighs.
Step 2: Melt the duck fat in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the melted fat starts to shimmer add the chicken skin side down. You will need to do this in 2 or 3 batches.
Step 3: Sear for 5 to 7 minutes per side. Keep in mind that you are searing the meat, not scorching or blackening it. If the meat starts to smoke or blacken remove the Dutch oven from the fire and turn the heat down to medium.
Step 4: When the first batch of chicken thighs is seared on both sides, remove them from the Dutch oven and place on a reserved plastic cutting board or serving platter. Cover with tin foil to help the meat retain the heat.
Step 5: Once all of the chicken has been seared and resting under tin foil you should turn the heat down to medium before sautéing the vegetables and spices.
Step 6: Add the onions to the Dutch oven. Toss continuously for 3 to 5 minutes or until you see them taking on a light golden brown.
Step 7: Add the garlic and sauté for 2 minutes before adding the tomato paste. Allow the tomato paste to sear for another 2 minutes.
Step 8: Add the ginger, chili powder, cardamom, nutmeg and fenugreek. Stir continuously for 2 minutes.
Step 9: Add the wine, chicken stock and water to the pot and scrape the bottom to release any seared on brown bits.
Step 10: Put the chicken thighs in the broth and cover. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow the stew to simmer for 60 to 90 minutes or until the meat can pull away from the bone with minimal effort. Then remove the cover and allow the sauce to reduce.
Step 11: Place the eggs in a pot of cold water over medium-high heat. When the water boils remove the pot from the water. Leave it covered to cook the eggs in the warm water for 12 minutes. Drain the water and allow them to cool.
Step 12: When the eggs are cool enough to handle, peel them under cold water. Add the whole eggs to the stew.
Traditionally this dish is plated and served with flat bread. For a Paleo twist I suggest laying the thighs over a bed of zucchini noodles and then pour the sauce over top.