Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Out of Africa: Peanut Stew

I've never had peanut stew, so I didn't know what I was making and I was unsure if I had actually achieved it when I was done.  But the idea sounded great -- sweet potatoes with chicken in a thick and spicy stew. 

This is more of a fall dish in style and hearty, rich flavor, but it was a great way to make dinner in the summer without a lot of work and without heating up the house. I threw it together in the morning before work and it cooked all day and we ate it for dinner when we got home.  I served it with brown rice, which I had pre-cooked earlier in the week and froze into little 1/4 cup pucks in my silicone muffin pan.  I made the rice in the rice cooker set in the garage so we didn't steam-heat the house since we're running the air conditioner.  Husband Jeff was happy that I did it that way, he's particular about that sort of thing.  It's good to be efficient and not over-tax our A/C, but I tend to want to bake when I know I can't.  I'm waiting for cooler weather in a few days so I can make savory zucchini cheddar muffins. 


Cookie + Kate West African peanut soup (vegetarian) and Simply Recipes African chicken peanut stew

I picked the parts of each recipe that met my needs (laziness and less calories).  I cooked mine in a slow cooker even though both recipes were made on a stovetop.  So I skipped browning the chicken and sauteing the onion, which reduced the amount of work and eliminated all of the oil.

I also didn't add the full amount of cayenne or black pepper so each person could add more spice if they wanted it.  This was supposed to have some wilted greens in it, but I figured we could add some torn fresh spinach at the end to customize our bowls.

You can make this vegetarian by swapping the chicken with chickpeas. 


  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I trimmed the extra fat and skin off mine)
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, diced
  • 1.5 Tablespoons ginger paste (from a tube, get some!)
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, minced (from a jar)
  • about 2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro



Throw everything in the slow cooker, stir, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  I served ours on top of brown rice.

Everything goes into the slow cooker.

Raw stew with a sprinkle of peanuts in the foreground.

Chicken-y closeup.

Chopping up cooked chicken in the middle of cooking.

My bowl, with spinach but no rice


Surprising amount of flavor for little spice.

My version was great, can't wait to try the real stuff! I didn't expect much flavor since the only real spice I added was coriander, which isn't a bold spice.  It must have been the peanut butter that helped give it flavor.

Next time I would go with only 3 cups of liquid so it would be thicker since I really wanted a heavy, rich stew.  I would also like to try smashing the sweet potato up with a potato masher when you take out the chicken to chop it.  That would hopefully thicken the sauce.  I had originally thought about thickening the stew with a cornstarch or arrowroot slurry when I got home, but I completely forgot about it when it came time to eat. 

I cooked mine in a slow cooker because it was convenient and would be ready when we got home.  Maybe in the fall or winter I'll make this again but cook it on the stove and then I can let it reduce down.  Plus the heavy boiling action can break down the veggies and have them contribute some thickness to the dish. 

Could have added more tomatoes.  And next time I won't put the peanuts to cook in the stew but rather chop them up and stir them in to each person's bowl when we serve it. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) gmail.com. It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!