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Kitfo is a wonderfully spicy Ethiopian steak tartare that will melt in your mouth. This is an incredibly simple and easy recipe to make, so you may be surprised by the complex flavors that hit your tongue. Starting with the highest quality beef you can find, then mixing with niter kibbeh (spiced butter) and a hearty berbere spice mixture, you’re creating delicious layers of flavor that unfold slowly in your mouth.
This recipe calls for a simple version of spiced butter that works very well for kitfo. We also have a richer, more traditional version of this Ethiopian niter kibbeh that you can make and store for recipes just like this one.
Cut beef into ¼ inch chunks. Using a large chef’s knife, mince beef chunks. Transfer the minced meat into a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside until the meat reaches room temperature.
Heat the butter over medium-low in a saucepan. Stir ground spices into the melted butter. Bring butter to a boil and then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for 20 – 30 minutes (or until froth stops rising to the surface). Skim froth from the surface periodically while cooking.
Carefully pour off the clear liquid, leaving the milk solids at the bottom of the pan. You can use a sieve or 3 – 4 layers of cheesecloth to strain liquid over a bowl if available.
Peel and mince the garlic.
Peel and finely chop the onion.
Set both aside.
Transfer the spiced and clarified butter (niter kebbeh) into a skillet and heat over medium-high. Sauté the onions in your clarified butter about 5 – 7 minutes, or until they begin to soften and turn translucent. Add the garlic and continue sautéing until aromatic (about 1 minute more).
Add the berbere and stir to combine.
If preparing with raw beef: remove skillet from heat and stir in the beef. Stir until just combined and all beef is fully coated in the butter mixture.
If preparing with cooked beef: remove from heat and stir in the beef. Stir in hot pan until the beef is cooked to desired doneness and fully coat in butter mixture.
Transfer your kitfo to a serving dish and serve right away with Ethiopian flat bread (injera) or warmed tortillas, collard greens (gomen), and a bit of rice.
Note: this dish is often served with raw meat. For that reason, we recommend you only consume raw beef if you can ensure your meat comes from a well-trusted source, and never use ground beef raw for this recipe. If you are unsure of your source of beef (or want to use ground beef), be sure to cook the meat until browned and no longer pink.