Berbere Braise

Berbere is a key ingredient in many Ethiopian dishes. It’s a flavorful, aromatic blend of spices that is both spicy-hot and spicy-spicy (aka filled with lots of spice flavors!). It’s hard to describe, but typically the flavor is deep and savory with hints of floral sweetness, without veering too far into the dreaded potpourri territory. It is a lovely complement for just about any cut of meat. With just a few dashes of berbere, I turned a standard braised pork shoulder into something phenomenal.

While you can find berbere recipes online, they normally call for spices that I don’t keep on hand (fenugreek, I’m looking at you!). Thankfully, Whole Foods has a pre-blended jar that was affordable (I rarely use more than a teaspoon or two, so one jar will last awhile!) and delicious. If you don’t have a store that sells it nearby, you should be able to order it readily online from Penzey’s or some other spice purveyor.


Berbere Braised Boston Butt (ohhh alliteration!)

  • Bone-in (or boneless) Boston Butt (cut into ~1″ thick steaks) [I used about 1-1.5″ to make 2-3 servings]
  • Kosher salt
  • Berbere (1-3 teaspoons, or more depending on taste)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • Chicken stock, about 1-1.5 cups
  1. Preheat your oven to 325. Meanwhile, heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Season the pork with salt and cook, 4-6 minutes on each side, or until well browned. Remove from pan and season generously with berbere on all sides.
  2. Add the onions to the same pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to caramelize. Try to scrape up any browned bits on the pan; if need be, add a splash of chicken stock to help you scrape it up.
  3. Layer the pork steaks on top of the onions and pour in the chicken stock until it covers the bottom of the pan and is about 1/3″ deep. Cover the pan tightly with aluminum foil. Cook for about an hour and a half; check for desired tenderness (be careful of the steam!) and cook a little longer if need be.

2 thoughts on “Berbere Braise

  1. Ethiopian food is so good, there’s a spice my old roommate used to use and it was so good. He’d mix it with meat, it was spicy and I can’t remember the name 😕.

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