Mafe, a.k.a. African Peanut Stew (a.a.k.a. Groundnut Stew)
Adapted from Simply Recipes’ African Peanut Stew. Of course, this version suggested legs or wings, which might work nicely, but this would be my undoing. I chose the third option: thighs. Although I opted for boneless and skinless (ew), I can see how they would add some depth to the stew. Instead, I opted to use my homemade bone broth, which I feel accomplished the same thing. I also took issue with how many sweet potatoes the original recipe called for. Either the scale at our grocer was way off, or it was just way too many. I reduced the amount here and upped the cooking time so they would disintegrate into the stew more. It was a lovely choice. I skipped the peanuts, which was not a lovely choice. Use them — it needs that umami sweet, roasted flavor. Enjoy!
3 pounds chicken thighs (substitute legs and wings, if preferred, or use a mix)
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow or white onion, roughly chopped in smaller pieces
3-inch piece of fresh ginger (about 4 tablespoons grated)
6-8 garlic cloves, minced
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (I used san marzano packed in sauce and crushed by hand)
1 quart chicken bone broth (or stock if using meat with bones)
1.5 cups peanut butter
1 cup roasted peanuts, crushed slightly
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne (more or less depending on your heat tolerance … this stew should have some warmth to it)
Salt and black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro
Additional crushed peanuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat coconut oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat (a Le Creuset or another dutch oven is ideal for this stew.) Salt the chicken pieces top and bottom, then dry well, adding them to the pot when the oil begins to shimmer. Do not overcrowd—work in batches, removing pieces to a plate after they are browned on each side.
Add the onions to the hot pot and cook until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Make sure to scrape any browned bits off the bottom and sides of the pot. Add the fresh grated ginger (really—do NOT use dry ground ginger!) and garlic and saute for about 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid burning. Add the sweet potatoes and stir to combine.
Return the chicken to the pot, adding the broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne. Stir well to combine. Bring to a rolling simmer and then carefully taste and adjust salt, as needed. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven, reducing the temperature to 275 degrees. Simmer the soup for about 60-90 minutes, stirring every half hour. Once the potatoes and meat fall apart, the stew is done
Remove from oven, take chicken out carefully and shred with forks, removing skin and bones if used, and return to pot. The potatoes should fall apart as you stir. You can further adjust the seasonings for salt and cayenne, then add black pepper—as much as you can stand. You want this stew to be peppery!
Top with cilantro and crushed peanuts and serve in bowls or over steamed white rice.
Originally published in “Tales Of Mafe … And A Strong Aversion To Chicken”