The Bellingham Supper Club is cooking Ethiopian on Saturday night, or to be more exact, "Horn of Africa". I've been working on 'kitfo', the Ethiopian version of steak tartare. 90% of the work was reading every recipe I could find on the internet, and looking at all the pictures. I came into this project with a present idea based on a lamb tartare made by some Ethiopian-Armenian sisters I used to have dinner with sometimes. Theirs was stuffed into Anaheim chiles, so I volunteered to make a stuffed chile version for Saturday. Finally last night I made batch no. 1, and had about ten variations to test once I chopped the meat (preferred by me to grinding) and had the spiced butter component ready to go.
I found that most of the recipes were somewhat underpowered compared to the sisters' version, and I missed the slight crunch of the onions I remember as redolent in theirs. So I added, and I added, and I added some more until the taste and texture not only matched but exceeded what I remember. Then I worked with various ways of stuffing fresh jalapenos and found that I actually preferred cutting three sides off the pepper, creating if you will 'petals', that one could spread the kitfo onto yourself, as whole the pepper-to-kitfo ratio was too great. Also, where virtually none of the recipes I read suggested cheese, or what the Ethiopians call Aaib or something like that, in most of the photos I saw when I finally googled kitfo images (and convinced Google that I didn't want to look at kit foxes instead), at least half of the photos I saw had this cheese mixture that looks rather like a burrata plated with the tartare. To test that flavor, I sprinkled a little chevre I was lucky to have on hand on top of my next bite of the kitfo, and OH MY GOD, no wonder they do that. The mellow richness of the cheese really punches up the seasonings in the tartare, and a fresh goat cheese is all by itself not lacking authenticity here as in Ethiopia goat would often be the meat of choice for a tartare.
So below is what we had for dinner on rye crackers and jalapeno petals, along with a pile of edamame in the pods finished with an artisan smoked onion salt, as long as we were eating with our hands anyway!
My husband, btw, did not previously care for steak tartare: he LOVED this.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov