Tuesday, February 19, 2013

African Chicken and Okra Peanut Stew

This is a different version of the African Chicken Peanut Stew which I posted in the past.  That version used a different group of vegetables which blended well with the peanut flavors and stewed the vegetables until they almost dissolved into the sauce.

For this variation I decided to use simpler vegetables such as carrots, onions, garlic and bell peppers.  I also added okra and fine strips of kale.  I've also managed to shorten the cooking time from 60 to 40 minutes and allowed the vegetables to cook well, but also maintain a nice bite rather than dissolve into the sauce.  Lastly, I simplified the sauce process by incorporating the peanut butter and tomato puree early in the process allowing the flavors to seep into the chicken as it stews.

One special ingredient I think is worth using for this dish is Red Palm Fruit oil which provides added flavor to the dish vs. regular vegetable oil.  Red Palm Fruit Oil is not easy to find.  You may find it in specialty stores or you may need to shop online. I am lucky to locate this product in my area at  Man Must Wak, an African-Caribbean Food Market in Oakland, California.  Carotino is a popular brand that offers Red Palm Fruit oil that you should be able to shop for on the web.  Vegetable oil can be used in its place.

African Chicken and Okra Peanut Stew

Servings: 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 40 minutes


4 Chicken Thighs (bone-in)
Salt and Pepper
1 Tablespoons Red Palm Fruit Oil  or Vegetable Oil
1 Large Yellow Onion diced
2 Garlic cloves chopped
15 oz can of Tomato Puree
1/4 Cup Smooth Creamy Peanut Butter
3.5 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Teaspoon Dried Thyme
1/2 Teaspoon Allspice
1 Serrano Pepper seeds discarded and chopped
2 Cups Kale leaves cut into thin strips
12 oz Okra
2 Medium Carrots peeled and cut into matchsticks
1/2 Red Bell Pepper seeds discarded and cut into strips

Step 1: Browning the Chicken - Season the chicken with salt and pepper according to your liking. In a large dutch oven or cast iron pot heat 1 tablespoon palm fruit oil or vegetable oil at a medium low heat.  Add the chicken to the pot to brown on all sides by turning the meat (about 5-7 minutes).  Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Step 2: Peanut Tomato Sauce -- Keeping the heat at medium low add the onions and garlic to the pot. Stir fry the onions until they are soft and translucent (about 5 minutes) .  Add the tomato puree and peanut butter to the pot and combine all the ingredients well by stirring for about a minute.  Add the chicken broth, thyme, allspice and serrano peppers. Stir the sauce to combine all the spices and let the sauce come to a mild simmer keeping it at a medium heat.  Return the chicken and its drippings to the pot.  The chicken pieces should be at least 3/4 quarters submerged in the sauce.  Let the pot continue to simmer uncovered at medium  heat for 30 minutes.

Step 3: Adding the Vegetables -- Keeping the stew at a slow simmer, add the kale, okra, carrots and bell peppers to the pot.  Increase the heat to bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat back to medium low, cover the pot and let the vegetables cook for an additional 5-10 minutes. Enough to steam cook the vegetables but maintain their crisp bite. Add salt and pepper according to your taste and serve in a bowl.

This hearty stew goes well with a crusted bread on the side to sop up the tomato nutty sauce.

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