Recipe - West African Ground Nut Stew

It's easy and the flavors are a rather magical combination - chicken, sweet potatoes, spices and peanut butter. Groundnut stew in various forms is common all over West Africa. We always use chicken, but recipes list beef as very common as well as goat or lamb, or you can leave the meat out for a vegetarian option. We often think of stew as a dish to eat when the weather turns cold, but the ginger and red pepper or cayenne makes it pop and actually cools you down even in our hot, summer weather.  Serve over rice with a bright salad or fruit bowl for a meal packed with flavor!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 pounds chicken thighs (bone-in or boneless, but the bones add flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups of onions, chopped
  • 2 T. of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped 
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 2 t. cumin
  • nutmeg
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon cayenne (to taste) plus pinch of ground red pepper or1 T. chili powder (I've used either and sometimes a combination, depending on the heat you want!! You can always add more!)
  • 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I use chunky, but many recipes use creamy
  • Salt and black pepper

Salt and pepper the chicken and then brown in hot vegetable oil.  When browned, add the onions, ginger and garlic and saute for 3-4 minutes. Add the cumin, nutmeg and cayenne/red pepper or chili and stir well to combine flavors. Then add the tomatoes and chicken stock. Simmer for 30 minutes or so and then add the sweet potatoes. When chicken is tender, one option is to remove the chicken, gently shred the chicken pieces and then put the chicken back in the stew. (I just leave mine in the stew, bones and all – more flavor). In a small bowl, mix some of the stew liquid with the peanut butter (to soften it and make it more liquid) and then slowly add it to the stew. Keep heat turned low and simmer the stew for another 20 minutes on low heat. Adjust seasonings as necessary adding salt, cayenne and/or black pepper to the heat level you prefer.

Serve over rice. Serve with a sprinkle of roasted peanuts and also chopped fresh cilantro if you want to add one more flavor. Sometimes we also have little bowls of chopped green onions, bananas, raisins, parsley, or chopped tomatoes to sprinkle on top of the stew for extra texture and brightness. 

Our family's experience is that this stew becomes even more flavorful the next day. If I’m going to serve it the next day, I wait to add the peanut butter until I’m reheating it.

(revised 0724/20)