Kitfo is the ultimate celebration dish in Ethiopia. The spiced raw beef was an important part of my wedding feast, but it is also served after a long vegetable fast. It can be refined, as it is here, but at its simplest, kitfo is simply chunks of raw beef dipped in the spicy dip called awase. We serve several versions of kitfo at Rooster. This one reminds me a little of the English bookmaker sandwich--the one made with roast beef, mustard, and horseradish. You can use the awase as a dip for vegetables, as a sauce for grilled fish, or as a rub for rack of lamb. There are a lot of versions of spiced butter in Ethiopia. My version is true to that made by my wife Maya's tribe, the Gurage. It has a hint of funk, like the funk of fermented foods, the new wave of flavor to follow umami.
For the awase: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the berbere, cayenne, horseradish and lemon juice and season with salt. Pour the awase into a small bowl without wiping out the skillet. Set aside.
For the kitfo: Heat the Spiced Butter in the same skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots, garlic and jalapenos and stir to combine. Add the berbere and more Spiced Butter if the pan looks dry. Add the vinegar, season with salt and simmer until some of the liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the mustard and cook 1 minute more, then transfer the kitfo base to a small bowl without wiping out the skillet. Set aside and keep warm.
Add the whole-wheat bread to the skillet and toast so the bread absorbs the kitfo flavors, about 2 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, sprinkle the beef with salt and pepper and toss to combine. Stir in the kitfo base until combined.
Put out the bowl of kitfo, the awase and a stack of toasts or injera if desired. Rip off pieces of toast, pile with kitfo and dip in the awase.
Yield:Makes about 3 cups.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the garlic, shallots, ginger, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, ajwain, fenugreek, pepper, cinnamon and turmeric. Simmer very gently for 30 minutes to infuse the flavors. Keep an eye on this; you don't want the milk solids to brown.
Skim off all the foam and any floating seeds and let the butter sit for about 10 minutes for the milk solids to settle on the bottom. Carefully pour the spiced butter through a sieve lined with a few layers of cheesecloth into a container, leaving the solids behind. Let it cool, then cover and refrigerate. It will keep for months.
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Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, shellfish and meat may increase the risk of foodborne illness.