Quarantine Recipes: Marcus Samuelsson - Modern Farmer

Quarantine Recipes: Marcus Samuelsson

We're asking top chefs what they're making in isolation.

Doro Wat Pasta
Photography courtesy of Marcus Samuelsson

One thing that hasn’t changed during the COVID-19 pandemic is the need to eat. Staying home has encouraged some to perfect their culinary skills while others have cracked open cookbooks for the first time.

To provide you with some kitchen inspiration, Modern Farmer is asking top chefs what they’ve been cooking while staying isolated. This week we heard from Marcus Samuelsson, who shared a recipe for his Doro Wat Pasta. Samuelsson is the acclaimed chef behind New York City’s Red Rooster Harlem, and many other restaurants. He has won multiple James Beard Foundation Awards and is a longstanding judge on the hit Food Network show Chopped.

Marcus Samuelsson. Photo by Angela Bankhead

This doro wat dish brings great comfort to me during quarantine. This specific recipe is a tribute to my Ethiopian heritage consisting of Ayib homemade curd cheese and doro wat. The doro wat is a stewed chicken that’s flavored with ginger and berbere. Berbere is my go-to spice blend that includes coriander, cardamom and chiles.

When my wife, Maya, and I make this after a long day, it’ll cheer us up instantly. It can easily be transformed into a kid-friendly recipe if you use half of the amount of spices. When I do this, my son, Zion, really enjoys eating it as well. The tender meat and pasta combine perfectly with the cheese and the cucumbers add a refreshing element that help round out the meal. 

Doro Wat Pasta

Serves 6-8


For the doro wat: 
5 pounds chicken leg quarters, skin removed, about 4
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 large red onions, peeled and quartered
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
8 cloves garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons Berbere seasoning
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
8 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon ground fenugreek

For the squash:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 For the ayib (homemade fresh cheese):
2 quarts buttermilk
4 kale leaves, stems removed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt

For the salted cucumbers: 
1 Persian cucumber, cut into ¼ inch pieces
½ tsp salt

For the assembly:
1 pound rigatoni, cooked to al dente
Ayib, to serve
2 tbsp salted cucumbers
1 plum tomato, quartered
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish
Crispy fried onions, for garnish (optional)


Make the Doro Wat:
Season the chicken with salt and pepper and set aside at room temperature.

Place the onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor and pulse until the consistency is a chunky puree.

Place the butter and fenugreek in a large, 8-to-10-quart Dutch oven and set over medium high heat. Once the butter has melted, add the onion mixture and stir to combine. Decrease the heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is melted and caramelized, about 45 minutes.

Heat the oven to 350º F.

Add the berbere and stir for 2 to 3 minutes until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Place the chicken in the pot and spoon the sauce over the chicken. Cover and place in the oven for about an hour, and braise until chicken is cooked through and tender.

Make the ayib:
Line a colander or a fine mesh sieve with a layer of cheesecloth. Set aside.

Heat oven to 350°. Wash the kale and pat it dry. Tear the kale in half, place it on a sheet pan and bake for 25 minutes until dry. Let it cool for 5 to 10 minutes until its safe to the touch. Crumble the kale with your hands until it resembles a powder.

Pour the buttermilk into a small saucepan over medium-low heat and bring to a slight simmer (at 200F° to 205°F) for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes. Pour into the colander with a mesh sieve and strain overnight through cheesecloth. Add in olive oil and powdered kale. Stir to combine.

Make the squash:
Place the squash, oil, salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl and toss to coat well. Transfer the squash to a baking sheet, spread it into a single layer and roast it in the oven next to the chicken for the last 30 to 35 minutes. Toss occasionally and cook until squash is tender.

Make the salted cucumbers:
In a medium bowl, add a ½ cup of water and a 1/2 tsp salt. Let sit for 20 min, then drain water out.

To serve:
Place the cooked pasta into a large serving bowl. Add the sauce from the chicken and the squash and toss to combine. Place the chicken on top, dot with the ayib and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan, tomatoes, salted cucumbers and crispy fried onions if desired.

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