Sunday, February 1, 2009

Saturday Dinner: Chicken Groundnut Stew

One of my only frustrations with my living situation here in the barracks is that we have kitchen available. Our rooms have a fridge and microwave, but there's no range or oven available anywhere. I have a (technically contraband) hot plate and toaster oven, but there's only so much you're willing to do with one burner and no ventilation, especially when you're cooking in your bedroom. It's also a huge event to get everything out of the boxes I keep it hidden in, cook, clean up, and pack it back up again. Long story short, I don't cook during the week, which is why I'm really glad we've gotten into a routine of holding Saturday evening dinner parties at a buddy's house. While I'm hardly one to start competing with all the fantastic food blogs available, I figured it'd be fun to start sharing what goes through my head, culinarily speaking. Last night our coterie feasted on a sack full of extremely ill-tempered blue crabs, courtesy of our host, and I made up a big ole' pot of chicken groundnut stew. Enjoy.

Chicken Groundnut Stew (adapted from Epicurious)

2 lbs chicken (recipe calls for a whole chicken in pieces, I just used 2 packages of drumsticks for ease of eating out of the stew)
1 qt chicken stock
1 15 oz can diced stewed tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 large sweet onion
4 cloves garlic
1/2 c natural creamy peanut butter (or Skippy. I doubt anyone'll notice)
1 1/2 tsp African cayenne (or your favorite hot stuff)
2 sweet potatoes
1 lb bag frozen cut okra

Salt the chicken and let stand for a few minutes to draw off surface moisture. Set a skillet heating. Pour your stock, tomatoes, and tomato paste into a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat to start heating up. Pat chicken dry and brown off in hot skillet with a bit of oil. No need to be fancy, just get some nice color on the skin. (Or just forget this step and drop the chicken into your stewpot as is; this dish is hardly going to be lacking in depth of flavor). Add chicken to stewpot with stock and tomatoes. When stew comes to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and make note of the time. While stew simmers, rough-chop the onion and toss in skillet. Cook on medium-high heat until onion is translucent and beginning to brown on edges. Turn down heat and allow onions to continue to caramelize while you make use of your favorite technique to turn garlic cloves into smashed garlic paste. Toss garlic in with onions for just a few minutes to heat up, and add to stewpot. Now's as good a time as any to add the cayenne and peanut butter. When the stew's been simmering a good 30 minutes or so, peel and chunk the sweet potatoes and add to stew. Toss in the frozen okra, and bring the whole thing back to simmering until the sweet potatoes are fork-tender but not falling apart, about 12 minutes. Salt to taste. Serve in bowls or stew plates, over rice or by itself.

You'll understand quickly why I like using just the drumsticks in this stew, because then you can just pick them up out of the stew with your fingers. I suppose there's more mannerly ways to eat this, but that just strikes me as way too much work.

Next time I'll try to remember to take a picture or three, but I won't be emulating the Pioneer Woman anytime soon.


Elephantschild said...

Funny. I made this, sans the chicken pieces, this past week. My version is slightly different, incorporating a ripe banana.

The African dried pepper Mom gave me from your stash (it's apparently a Scotch bonnet pepper, not cayenne) really makes a difference. I blend about 3/4 of the sauce thru a blender, which makes it less chunky, but still with a nice texture for over rice.

Mad Musician loves it. Even though it looks for all the world like poo.

I'll do Jollof rice at Easter this year, I think.

Diane Meyer said...

What about all the condiments that go on top of the groundnut stew? You didn't mention any. Whenever we had it there was chopped coconut, onions, pineapple, raisins, peanuts. There were actually a few other items, but I can't remember. Guess that is what age does to you. When will you be home to cook for us again? I am getting jealous.