I have blogged before about my volunteer work with the Food Chain, and about the fact that I, a Polish Jew, am responsible for coming up with tasty recipes suitable for our service users who request “African” and “Afro-Caribbean” meals. The latter are somewhat easier; while the Afro-Caribbean population is incredibly diverse, at least the Caribbean is a relatively small geographical area. The produce in the markets in Trinidad and Domenica tends to be similar, even if their roti recipes are different. But “African”? Africa is a CONTINENT. It’s taken me a long time to gain a passing familiarity with Moroccan food, and that’s one country, in North Africa, out of 53 (if you include the island nations). So time and again I find myself seeking guidance from that indefatigable source, the internet. Everything’s true on the internet, right?
This lovely chicken dish, which I’ve now cooked to rave reviews at the Food Chain (twice) and at home (once) is a somewhat-adapted “Ghanaian” stew. I feel compelled to offer a disclaimer: I have not been to Ghana. I don’t think I’ve been to a Ghanaian restaurant. I have no idea whether I’ve gotten my proportions all wrong in cooking to my Eurocentric palate. But this stew, in which chicken cooks slowly with peanuts and tomatoes and ginger and spicy peppers until the chicken falls off the bone and the sauce becomes a rich thick fatty paste, is DELICIOUS, and it’s what I’m eating for dinner. Thank you internet!
8-12 chicken thighs and legs, bone-in (Or breasts on the bone if you prefer, or you can just cut up one to two chickens. Estimate approximately 2 pieces of chicken per person)
2-3 spicy chilli peppers (you can adjust this amount depending on your spice tolerance and the spiciness of your chilis), minced
5-6 cloves garlic (about half a head), minced
2-3 inches of ginger, peeled and minced
1 large onion or two medium onions, chopped
400 ml (about half a quart) white chicken stock
400 ml crushed tomatoes
100 ml (about ¼ pound) peanut butter
70 grams (about 3 ounces) peanuts, toasted and crushed into chunks with a rolling pin
1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
2-3 yams, peeled and cut into chunks (you can use African yams, or you can use sweet potatoes (known as yams in the US))
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil
a large handful of fresh coriander (cilantro), chopped, plus additional coriander for garnish
Wash and dry the chicken pieces then season liberally with salt. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed skillet and brown the chicken pieces on both sides. Remove the pieces from the pan when browned on both sides.
In the same pan and without cleaning it, sauté the onions, ginger, garlic, ground coriander and chili peppers. Pour off excess fat, deglaze with the chicken stock, and transfer the chicken and sautéed vegetables to a pot suitable for slow-cooking. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and peanut butter, reduce heat to a simmer, and cover.
Cook for an additional 30 minutes or until chicken and yam are tender. Taste and adjust salt, then season liberally with black pepper. Garnish with fresh coriander, and serve over rice. Makes 4-6 servings.