Shauna James Ahern's Ethiopian Chicken Stew


[Photograph: Penny De Los Santos]

Some of my favorite memories from college were the long, friend-filled dinners at the Ethiopian restaurant up the street from campus. We'd gorge on spicy braised meats, simmered lentils, and rich stews, all the while scooping up and dipping into the buttery sauces with tangy injera bread. It was messy in the most comforting way.

So, I was excited to find a recipe for Ethiopian chicken stew in Shauna James Ahern's new cookbook Gluten-Free Girl Every Day. Both the stew and the accompanying injera are naturally gluten-free, so they're an obvious inclusion in the book. The stew itself is straightforward to make, but kicked up with homemade berbere seasoning. Ahern employs a two-stage cooking technique for the chicken--dark meat first, white meat later--that guarantees tender and juicy protein. Her injera bread is a quicker take on the traditional fermented batter. Instead of letting it sit out for a couple of days to turn sour, she adds yogurt for tang and a multiplicity of flours to add depth.

Why I picked this recipe: I've long been a fan of rich Ethiopian stews, but have somehow managed to not make a single one from scratch. Plus, I couldn't wait to try my hand at making injera!

What worked: Adding the chicken breasts halfway through cooking resulted in a stew that was fragrant, rich, and (best of all) contained perfectly cooked poultry. The injera bread was equally successful and worked great for sopping up all of the saucy bits.

What didn't: Cooking the injera took a little practice, but it's not much different from making crepes. I had the best luck cooking them in a nonstick skillet when there was very little butter in the pan. A thin swipe is all you really need.

Suggested tweaks: Ahern suggests a vegetarian version of the stew with sweet potatoes in place of the chicken. Winter squash or any root vegetable would work as well. You could also serve this over rice if you're not up for making the bread.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Gluten-Free Girl Every Day to give away this week.