January 24, 2011

African Chicken Peanut Stew

The theme for the latest potluck lunch at my place of employment was soup and chili.  Several people, including myself, signed up to bring various sorts of soup, stew and chili, while the remainder of my coworkers signed up to bring crackers, bread, desserts, bowls, condiments, drinks and so forth.  It was probably the best potluck we've had yet.  All of the main courses looked and smelled delicious, and all the ones I tried were quite good.

You start by browning chicken thighs in batches.

When the theme of this potluck was decided, I knew right away what I wanted to make.  One of our favorite food sites, Simply Recipes, had featured a recipe awhile back for African Chicken Peanut Stew.  This is a variant of a dish common to many African nations; the recipe is noted as having origins in Ghana, but I've had more or less identical dishes prepared by acquaintances from Liberia and Ethiopia.  In fact, I have other versions of the same dish among my recipe collection, but I've never been particularly pleased with the results.  The version at Simply Recipes looked pretty good, so I thought I'd take another shot at the dish.

Then you saute the onions, and later some ginger and garlic.
Next you add chicken broth, tomatoes, peanuts, peanut butter
and some seasonings and return the chicken to the pot.
I took the chicken off the bone at this point.

I was very pleased with the result.  It is pretty easy to make, and not really very time-consuming, since all one has to do most the time is occasionally stir the stew as it cooks.  Although the soup is based around chicken broth, the most prominent flavor is that of peanuts, provided by both roasted peanuts and peanut butter.   Other seasonings include ample amounts of ginger, garlic, cayenne and black pepper, giving the soup a nice warmth that helps balance out all the sweetness.  Round it out with sweet potatoes and chicken and you've got a delicious stew, tender and flavorful.   The heat is prominent but not overwhelming, though I should note that I used only 3/4 teaspoon of cayenne, rather than the 1 teaspoon called for, as I wasn't sure how some of my colleagues felt about spicy food.  Other than that change, leaving cilantro as an optional garnish (since I know many people don't like it) and substituting diced tomatoes for crushed, I made the recipe as-written.

I made it a couple days ahead, transferred it to the
slow cooker, put it in the fridge and warmed it up
at work in plenty of time for lunch. 

Juli and I both really loved it when we sampled it, and it was also well-received by my coworkers.  Every comment about the stew was positive, and several asked about the recipe.  I noted that it was not my recipe, but promised I'd include a link to the recipe on my blog.   And, in keeping my promise, here's the link.

This is a winning recipe.  I'm sure we'll be making it again sooner rather than later.

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