Hot, as in chilli; spicy, as in cardamom, clove, cumin and co.
For this post, I will work backwards some of the time, beginning with the end result of our explorations.
A serve of roasted, marinated chicken wings is one of our favourite Weber-weather dishes. The photos show a recent dinner, before and after cooking, including a lightly-dressed salad of roasted beetroot, blood orange and our homegrown green leaves.
The wing pieces – all middle segments, ideal for this kind of cooking – had spent a night in a marinade of 40ml berbere spice mix, 1 tsp chicken stock powder, 50ml cumquat-infused vinegar, 1 tsp sugar and 50ml olive oil (measurements are highly approximate).
Berbere is the traditional Ethiopian spice mix, renowned for being both hot and spicy. We have been making our own for several years. It can be bought at specialist shops in Melbourne – including the peerless Gewürzhaus – but these have so much black pepper that the other ingredients struggle to be noticed.
We mainly use it with pork and chicken. Here is our recipe:
20 cardamom pods
10 whole dried chillies, stalk end removed then coarsely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp fenugreek seeds
2 tsp allspice berries
4 tsp black peppercorns
generous pinch of saffron threads
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp salt flakes
- Heat a small heavy-based frying pan.
- Bruise the cardamom pods with a rolling pin and add them to the pan with all the other whole spices. Toast lightly until the cardamom seeds begin to release their aroma.
- Remove the seeds from the cardamom pods, discard the pods and grind/blend all the roasted spices to a coarse powder.
- Mix with the ginger, nutmeg and salt.
- Store in an airtight container in your pantry.
The other novel component of the marinade is the cumquat-infused vinegar. A few years ago, our Greek neighbours invited us to help ourselves to their abundant crop of cumquats. Yes, we made some jam/marmalade but we also tried to make some brandied cumquats and some pickled cumquats. Once they were ready to be used we decided that we didn’t much like the fruit but the liquids were stunning and we maintain a constant supply of both.
The vinegar is mostly used in marinades but I also use it to top up a batch of vinaigrette that needs more acid. Here is the recipe:
1 tsp salt
500g cumquats, washed
150g caster sugar
½ stick of cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
600ml good quality white wine vinegar
- Dissolve salt in water in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over cumquats in a bowl and stand for 12 hours before draining.
- Simmer sugar and spices in vinegar until sugar has dissolved. Simmer a further 5 minutes.
- Carefully pack cumquats into sterile jars, pour in vinegar syrup and seal. Store in a cool, dark place.
- After 6 to 8 weeks, remove cumquats and discard.
Meanwhile, some toddler – ie, not baby – beetroots were tossed with olive oil, salt and plenty of black pepper after being boiled whole for a good 20minutes, peeled and cut into large wedges, then roasted in the Weber. The other item on the menu was whole kipfler potatoes, pricked – to prevent explosions – then boiled for 12-15 minutes, rolled in leftover marinade and roasted in the Weber.
As Maggie says, “we love our Weber Q”.