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Groundnut Stew

Groundnut Stew -- Chicken with Peanut Butter and Sweet Potatoes

YouTube: Groundnut Stew

This is a simple and very popular dish from West Africa, where it is served all over the continent. There are hundreds of variations on groundnut stew, some using beef and lamb, using all different kinds of spices. The key ingredients are the meat, tomatoes, peanuts (called "groundnuts" in Africa), and sweet potatoes; everything else can be adjusted and substituted, according to your taste. For instance, you can add hotter spice if you have a taste for it. While I enjoy spices, I've personally favored the sweeter version, which is why I went with the addition of molasses for sweetness.

Preparation of this dish is similar to my own family recipe for Ma's Vinegar Chicken, using the same steps but different ingredients: saute onions and spices (garlic and ginger), brown the chicken, then add stew ingredients and stew it for an hour and a half. At that point, the chicken is tender enough to fall off the bone; while the sweret potatoes haven't reached the point where they dissolve into mush. I'd been eating my family recipe for stewed chicken all my life, but didn't discover groundnut stew until much later in life. This makes it a good testament to being willing to try new foods! :)

Pans needed: Large stewing pot or stock pot, at least 5 to 6 quarts in size (or bigger if you're using larger amounts, to feed lots of people).

The chicken should be cut or broken into parts. Slice onions. Remove seeds from bell pepper, slice and dice. Chop garlic and ginger.

If this dish is being made in a bare cast iron pot, grease the insides of the pot with shortening to help prevent sticking. (This dish uses tomatoes, and the acid of the tomatoes can affect the seasoning of the pot; the additional layer of shortening helps to minimize this effect.)

Heat the pot until it is hot enough to cause a few drops of water to sizzle and evaporate. Add oil to the bottom of the pot, and wait for one minute to heat the oil. Add onion slices and saute for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions are soft and nearly translucent. Add ginger and garlic, and saute another minute.

Raise the stovetop temperature to medium high, about 7 on a range of 1 to 10. Add chicken to the pot, and brown all sides; this will take between five to ten minutes.

Add sweet potatoes, and stir for about three minutes until everything is mixed together. The potatoes will still be hard; they will soften later in the stew. The stirring will help them settle in with the chicken.

Add tomatoes, diced bell pepper and hot pepper sauce. Add peanuts, peanut butter, coriander, chili powder, curry and molasses; and stir it all together. Add chicken broth to cover the stew. Lower the stovetop temperature to medium (4 to 5 on a 1 to 10 setting). Stir, then cover the pot and simmer for 90 minutes, or one and a half hours. The stew should simmer for only 90 minutes, so the sweet potatoes will retain some firmness. After 90 minutes, they will soften into mash. You can still eat them, but they're better when they retain a little firmness, similar to al dente pasta.

Half an hour before the stew is ready for serving, prepare a pot of white rice.

When ready for serving, the stew can be served over rice; or the rice can even be mixed right into the stew pot before it is served. Top with lots of black pepper, and cilantro.