For this delicious, sumptuous stew, you can make your own peanut butter or use a natural version, minus the stabilizers and sugar found in many commercial brands, to get the right silky texture and pure peanut flavor. This recipe first appeared in our May 2012 issue along with John O'Connor's story A Feast For All.
Find this recipe in our cookbook, SAVEUR: Soups and Stews
Note: Fonio and Khouthia are available via mail order from Nawel Keur Mame Asta Walo Halal Meat & Poultry Grocery (call or visit: 219 West 116th Street, New York City, New York; 212/222-7900)
For the Peanut Butter and Chicken
- 2 cups shelled, skinned peanuts
- 1⁄4 cup peanut oil
- 2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Sauce
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1⁄4 cup tomato paste
- 1 habanero or Scotch bonnet chile, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
- 8 oz. small carrots, halved lengthwise
- 10 okra pods, halved lengthwise
- 2 medium sweet potatoes or 1 small butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 small head green cabbage, cut into 8 wedges, core left intact
- 1⁄4 cup fresh lime juice
- Cooked white rice or fonio, for serving
- Khouthia (hibiscus leaf conserve), for serving (optional)
Make the peanut butter: Heat oven to 350°. Spread the peanuts on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool, and transfer peanuts to a food processor or mortar and pestle and process until they form a smooth paste. Transfer peanut butter to a sealed plastic container, and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Brown the chicken: Heat oil in a 6–qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and add to pot; cook, turning once, until browned all over, about 12 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate, and set aside.
Make the sauce: Add garlic and onion to the pot, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 6 minutes. Add tomato paste, and cook, stirring often, until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add 1⁄3 cup of the peanut butter, habanero chile, and bay leaf, and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. Add stock, and stir until smooth; add reserved chicken, carrots, okra, sweet potatoes, and cabbage, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, covered partially and stirring occasionally, until chicken and vegetables are tender, about 25 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl or platter. Continue cooking sauce, stirring often, until reduced by half and thickened, about 12 minutes. Stir in lime juice.
To serve, season the sauce with salt and pepper, and pour over chicken and vegetables. Serve over rice or fonio and khouthia on the side.