Ever since sixth grade, when I used my required year-long project to learn all about Ghana -- history, culture, geography, show and tell, and lots of book reports -- I've longed to travel to that part of the world. Recently, while flipping through one of my favorite mail-order catalogs, I spied a jar of West African maffé sauce. As I read more about it, I realized it was simply a shortcut sauce to use as a base for chicken mafé (yes, different spelling, but the same thing), a rich, thick stew combining peanuts (or peanut butter), tomato and a few spices you already have in your pantry. With coconut milk as the foundation, West African chicken stew is a perfectly rich and thick dish that happens to be both gluten-free and dairy-free. One jalapeño pepper, with the seeds and ribs removed, provides just the right amount of heat without overwhelming the peanut flavor; although the cayenne pepper really adds to the flavor of the chicken, you can cut the amount in half, or omit it. Serve the stew over rice, and it's a feast in a bowl, great for entertaining but easy enough for everyday.
West African chicken mafé (chicken stew in peanut sauce)
From the pantry, you'll need: onion, garlic, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, fresh black pepper, jalapeño, chicken broth, peanut butter, coconut milk, canned chopped tomato, tomato paste, thyme, ginger root.
Adapted from many recipes, especially this one on Scrumpdillyicious. Serves 6-8.
2-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
3 tsp chopped garlic, divided
1/2 to 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (use lesser amount for a bit less heat)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
4 cups chicken broth, low-sodium store-bought or homemade
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/4 cup drained canned chopped tomato
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp peeled, grated fresh ginger root
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley, for garnish
Place the chicken pieces in a large mixing bowl, and add the salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons of chopped garlic, and cayenne. Use your hands to mix everything together, making sure the spices are distributed all over the chicken.
Wash your hands well.
Heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium high heat. Add the chicken, in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan, and brown on all sides, then transfer to a platter or bowl.
To the oil remaining in the pan, add the onion, bell peppers, the remaining garlic, and jalapeño. Sauté the vegetables for 4-5 minutes until soft.
Pour in the chicken broth and simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the peanut butter, tomato paste, canned tomato, thyme, ginger and coconut milk, and simmer for two minutes, whisking to incorporate the ingredients. Return the browned chicken to the pan and cook uncovered over low heat 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is tender and the sauce thickens.
Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley, and serve hot, over rice.
More chicken stew recipes:
Slow cooker Caribbean pepper pot, from The Perfect Pantry
Doro wat, Ethiopian chicken in red pepper sauce, from The Perfect Pantry
Sofrito chicken stew, from Skinnytaste
Fesenjan Persian chicken stew with walnut and pomegranate sauce, from Simply Recipes
Green chile and chicken stew, from Girl Gone Gourmet
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