Dinner, Lunch, Sides

Berbere-spiced Theme

The other day, I made this Berbere Spice Mix. It is super yummy and I find myself putting in and on pretty much everything. But, seeing not everyone knows what to do with the flavors, I thought that I would give you three examples: Skillet Potatoes, Chicken Skewer Wraps with Tzaziki Sauce (yes, Ethiopian and Greek in this case) and a beautiful Heritage Pork Chop. Yum.


Berbere-spiced Skillet Potatoes

3 tablespoons veggie oil
1 medium onion, chopped into small pieces
1 small red bell pepper, chopped into small pieces
2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, scrubbed and cut into a rough dice
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 teaspoons Berbere Spice
additional salt to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a heavy 12-inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, until hot but not smoking. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and set aside.

Meanwhile, place the diced potatoes in a large saucepan, cover with 1/2-inch of water, add 1 teaspoon of salt, and place over high heat. As soon as the water begins to boil, after about 5 minutes, drain the potatoes thoroughly in a colander.

Heat the butter and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until the butter foams. Add the potatoes in a single layer, making sure each potato is touching the surface of the skillet. Cook, without stirring, until one side of the potatoes is golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Carefully turn the potatoes with a thin spatula. Spread the potatoes in a single layer and repeat the process again until the potatoes are tender and browned on most sides, turning 3 to 4 times, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the onion mixture, the berbere spice and salt, and stir to blend. Be gentle! Serve immediately.

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Berbere-spice Chicken Skewer Lettuce Wraps, with Tzatziki Sauce

for the Tzatziki
1/4 of a “European”/”English” cucumber, peeled and seeds removed, chopped to a very small dice
2 garlic cloves finely minced
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
a few grinds of black pepper

for the skewers
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut to 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons berbere spice

You will also need: whole leaves of romaine or Boston lettuce, for serving

For the tzatziki: Whisk lemon juice and garlic together in small bowl. Let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in yogurt, cucumber, parsley, salt and pepper. Cover and set aside.

For the chicken: Dissolve 2 tablespoons salt in 1 quart cold water. Submerge chicken in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Toss chicken with olive oil and berbere spice. Thread chicken onto skewers (depending on your skewer length, this will make 2 or 4 skewers).

Heat your grill. Place skewers on hotter side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is well browned on all sides and chicken registers 160F, 15 to 20 minutes.

To serve, remove chicken from skewers to a serving bowl. Cup a piece of lettuce in your hand and fill with one tablespoon of tzatziki. Add a few chicken pieces and wrap together. Enjoy!

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Berbere-spiced Pork Chop

For the brine (optional)
3 cups cold water, divided
3 tablespoons coarse kosher salt (or 2 1/2 tablespoons table salt)

For the pork chops
1 or 2 pork chops, bone-on, 1- to 1 1/2-inches thick (about 1 pound each)
Olive oil
1 teaspoon per chop of Berbere Spice Mix

You will also need: a cast iron (ceramic coated or not) or a steel clad skillet. Do not use a pan with a non-stick coating (i.e. Teflon).

Brine the pork chops (optional): Bring 1 cup of the water to a boil, add the salt and stir to dissolve the salt. Add 2 more cups of cold water to bring the temperature of the brine down to room temperature. Place the pork chops in a shallow dish and pour the brine over top. The brine should cover the chops. Cover the dish and refrigerate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 400F. Place the skillet in the oven to preheat.

While the oven heats, prepare the pork chops. Remove the chops from the brine; if you didn’t brine, remove the chops from their packaging. Pat dry with paper towels. If there is a significant fat cap on the chop, don’t remove it (good flavor for cooking; if you adverse to the fat, just don’t eat it later), but do score it with a sharp knife every 1/2 inch or so, so that the chop doesn’t curl up and “cup”. Rub both sides with olive oil, then sprinkle with the berbere spice. Set the chops aside to warm while the oven finishes heating.

Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven and set it over medium-high heat on the stove top. Be careful as the pan will be very, very hot. Turn down the oven to 350F. Lay the pork chops in the hot skillet. You should hear them immediately begin to sizzle. Sear until the first side of the chops are seared golden, 3 minutes. The chops may start to smoke a little; Turn down the heat if it becomes excessive. Flip the pork chops to the other side and immediately transfer the skillet to the oven. Roast until the pork chops are cooked through and register 140°F to 145°F in the thickest part of the meat with an instant-read thermometer. Cooking time will be 6 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the chops. Start checking the chops at 6 minutes and continue checking every minute or two until the chops are cooked through. Transfer the cooked pork chops to a plate and tent loosely with foil and let the chops rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

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