Flavor from the African Continent

Continuing our theme of creative comfort food for the changing of the seasons, this time around takes us to the continent of Africa, where bold flavors get blended to make a hearty stew. While the version pictured here boasts tender shredded chicken, it can be made easily as a vegetarian dish as well:

This version of a classic peanut stew brings tender fresh vegetables and a rich, hearty sauce together in one bowl. And while it is traditionally also a fairly spicy dish, the amount of heat you decide to bring to the table is entirely up to you. Also, while I highly recommend the blend of vegetables called for in this dish, you could consider different peppers and onions. If you don't have sweet potatoes, consider waiting until you have them on hand. Regular taters, while lovely, will just not work as well in this dish as tender sweet potatoes will. If you opt to omit the chicken, consider adding one can of drained chickpeas. You'll have a heartier meal when it comes time to sit down to dinner!

Speaking of that, this dish really does stand on its own. Feel free to pour yourself your favorite beverage and dig in. If you simply must have something with it, I'd recommend a bit of steamed rice and maybe some fresh fruit. Really, it doesn't need any sidekicks. Just sit back and enjoy.

West African Peanut Stew

  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large red onion
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and cut into strips
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 3 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • ¾ cup chunky peanut butter
  • 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon sriracha
  • 1 tablespoon chili paste (sambal oelek)

In a large pot, bring the chicken or vegetable stock to a simmer over medium heat. While the stock is heating, prepare the vegetables, mince the garlic, and peel and mince the ginger. Once the stock is simmering, add the vegetables, garlic, ginger, and salt and continue to cook for 18-20 minutes or until onion is soft and the sweet potatoes are nearly fork-tender.

While the stock is simmering, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste in a large heat-proof container.

After 10 minutes into the stock simmering, ladle out about a cup and a half of the stock into the container with the peanut butter and tomato paste, whisking to combine, adding more stock, if necessary, to thin it out. It should be about the consistency of yogurt.

Add the cooked chicken and the peanut butter mixture into the pot. Add the sriracha and chili paste (feel free to adjust these according to your spiciness preferences) and continue to cook on low heat for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

* To make this a vegetarian dish, opt for vegetable stock and omit the shredded chicken.

  • Yields: 4-6 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes