As Julia Child once stated so eloquently (if I may paraphrase here), cooking is one disaster after another. The other night, I made Doro Wat, the classic Ethiopian chicken stew made with bone-in chicken (such as wings or thighs). Suffice to say, sometimes when experimenting with something new, it may be prudent to try it for yourself first. Luckily, I did just that. Some recipes are fixable when under the radar of guests; some are further outfitted to personal taste; others are merely poorly conceived and despite your instincts, you wish you could just throw the end result on the floor if only you didn't have to clean it up! This recipe was of the poorly conceived category. The sauce was comprised of chicken stock, garlic, olive oil, red onions, ginger, lime juice, fragrant berbere spice (shown, a blend of paprika, onion, fenugreek, fenugreek leaf, salt, chiles, shallots, garlic, cinnamon, pepper, cardamom, nutmeg, ginger, cumin, allspice, and cloves) and half-sharp Hungarian paprika. As good as that sounds, the sauce never thickened, despite the fact that I added a few teaspoons of flour into the mix, in my vilely thwarted attempts. I think I would just add cooked rice or pureed white beans into the sauce to thicken it up.
After scouring the web, I decided on a recipe for injera flat bread (a thin, spongy bread, near to crepes but without eggs), which is meant as a substitute for utensils for this stew or any number of Ethiopian dishes, but may be used just for dipping into the sauces as well. I went through about six pieces of ruined dough until the heat of the pan, the batter and I agreed. That, at least, was quite good when all was said and done. The recipe I used says the bread is "cooked through when bubbles appear all over the top." I found that to be a little vague. As I persevered, I discovered the injera needs to curl up at the edges and is done when after shaking the non-stick pan (I went through two non-stick pans before finding the correct one) slightly, the bread slips out. It may surprise you that I found the whole thing to be hilarious in the midst of my disastrous solitude.
I would use the spices again in other poultry or fish dishes and I will make this particular recipe again in the hope of making it better, unsatisfied as I am in my restless, culinary heart.
Whatever kitchen predicament you may sometimes find yourself intimately involved in, to further paraphrase Julia Child, whether the lettuce has frozen or the cat has fallen into the stew, your guests need never be informed. Remember the power of suggestion! Now, set forth and do enjoy!
After weathering a soul-shredding career as a theatrical agent that lasted entirely too long, Mr. Sherwood left his stable of actors from the stage and screen and went on to pursue his literary aspirations. He is currently the dining editor for Next magazine (nextmagazine.com) where he writes a weekly restaurant review column which also features Manhattan's best food and drink recipes from the finest chef's and bartenders on the island. In 2010 he was published in Foodista’s Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. He toiled as web editor for industry leader Interior Design magazine for several years and has also written for New York magazine, Travel & Leisure and Woman’s Day.
A proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire, one of the nation’s top drinking schools, Mr. Sherwood also studied voice and theater abroad at Regent’s College, in London’s historic Regent’s Park, and at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent a year at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Mr. Sherwood recently published his first novel, the pale of memory, available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and iUniverse.com. He is in the midst of writing a second.
Twitter/tweet/twat him @kaleidabox