African Chicken Peanut Stew

A hearty West African-inspired stew of chicken thighs and legs, sweet potatoes and peanuts that is perfect for a chilly day.

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Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

Like peanut butter? Chicken? Then this African chicken peanut stew by Hank is for you. Perfect for chilly weather. ~Elise

Chicken, sweet potatoes and peanuts are one of those magical flavor combinations that make me feel all warm and happy, especially because I never would have thought to do this 20 years ago, when I met some fellow University of Wisconsin students from Ghana who made this stew at their apartment.

Chicken groundnut stew is, in various forms, common all over West Africa, and this is my version, inspired by my colleagues at UW.

The best way to make this stew is with two whole stewing hens—older chickens available at Asian and Latin markets. You start by simmering the birds to make stock, which then becomes the base of the stew, and then you use the meat from the hens.

This is a bit labor-intensive for most, so I normally use pre-cut chicken parts: legs, wings and especially thighs. This stew is just made for chicken thighs.

African Chicken Peanut Stew

What is a little unusual about how you make the stew is that you first brown the chicken and then stew it on the bone. You can certainly eat it off the bone in the stew, but this is messy, so I prefer to fish out the meat and shred it. Why bother with the bones and skin at all? They add a ton of flavor to the stew.

Sweet potatoes or yams are a must in the African version, but if you hate them, use regular potatoes or turnips.

The stew is supposed to be pretty spicy, so I normally use a lot of hot sauce thrown in at the end of the cooking. I only call for 1 teaspoon of cayenne here, because no matter how chile-adverse you are, it ought to have at least a faint bite of heat. If you truly can’t take chiles, skip the cayenne. But someone in Ghana will cry.

From the recipe archive, first posted 2010.

African Chicken Peanut Stew Recipe

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  • Prep time: 20 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour, 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6-8

Use chicken legs, thighs or wings for this recipe. They have more flavor and will hold up better with the flavors of the stew than breast meat.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 pounds chicken legs, thighs and/or wings
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, sliced
  • A 3-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
  • 6-8 garlic cloves, chopped roughly
  • 2-3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 15-ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 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

Method

1 Brown the chicken. Heat the vegetable oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat. Salt the chicken pieces well, pat them dry and brown them in the oil. Don't crowd the pot, so do this in batches. Set the chicken pieces aside as they brown.

2 Sauté the vegetables. Sauté the onions in the oil for 3-4 minutes, stirring often and scraping any browned bits off the bottom of the pot. Add the ginger and garlic and sauté another 1-2 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and stir well to combine.

3 Cook the stew. Add the chicken, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, peanut butter, peanuts, coriander and cayenne and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer and taste for salt, adding more if needed.

Cover the pot and simmer gently for 90 minutes (check after an hour), or until the chicken meat easily falls off the bone and the sweet potatoes are tender.

4 Remove bones and chop the cooked chicken. Remove the chicken pieces and set them in a bowl to cool, until cool enough to touch. Remove and discard the skin if you want, or chop it and put it back into the pot.

Shred the meat off the bones and put the meat back in the pot.

5 Adjust seasonings. Adjust the seasonings for salt and cayenne, then add as much black pepper as you think you can stand—the stew should be peppery. Stir in the cilantro and serve by itself, or with simple steamed rice.

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Hank Shaw

A former restaurant cook and journalist, Hank Shaw is the author of three wild game cookbooks as well as the James Beard Award-winning wild foods website Hunter Angler Gardener Cook. His latest cookbook is Buck, Buck, Moose, a guide to working with venison. He hunts, fishes, forages and cooks near Sacramento, CA.

More from Hank

Links:

African Peanut and Pineapple Stew - from Field to Feast

Vegetarian Peanut Stew with Okra - from Kitchen M

Filipino Oxtail and Peanut Stew - from Rasa Malaysia

Virginia Cream of Peanut Soup - from Big Red Kitchen

Out of (West) Africa - story by Sean Timberlake about an African peanut stew

African Chicken Peanut Stew

Showing 4 of 161 Comments

  • Elizabeth K

    So, I’ve never tasted this, but I made it, and gambled on making some alterations. I do like spicy well rounded flavors, and I’m not too crazy about peanuts. However, it came out delightful, I’m definitely making it again, many many times.
    I used red onion, sauteed in red palm oil, along with garlic slivers and chopped sweet peppers. I added 2 more teaspoons of Indian chili powder, I tbsp smoked paprika and instead of peanut butter I used ground peanuts (I accidentally bought peanuts). I made a sauce blending tomato, peanut powder, cumin, coriander, chili pepper paste, garlic, salt. I also added rutabaga, carrot and parsnip along with the sweet potato. I cooked on low in slow cooker for 4 hours. The flavor was divine.

  • Brianna

    LOVE!! My all time favorite. I first had this soup at a restaurant and had to learn how to make it for myself. This recipe is by far the best and easiest to make. It makes enough to have leftovers for the week. I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes I use russet potatoes. I’m making it as I comment. I’m waiting the 90 minutes simmer right now. The Aromas are amazing and my mouth is watering..

  • Mark

    Followed this almost to the letter and it’s one of the best dishes you’ll ever make. Everyone I’ve cooked this for or recommended the recipe to has absolutely loved it. I’ve been making this for over five years and never had a negative comment. Eat with rice, chunky bread and butter or completely on it’s own. I truly feel sorry for anyone that hasn’t tried this recipe. If anyone has a better recipe I’d love to hear of it, but I won’t hold my breath.

  • Taz

    Delicious.
    Browned my meat in bacon grease, no skin, in my cast iron. Used a little broth to get the brown yummy bus it if pan and added to put. Also sautéed the onions in a little bacon grease.
    Topped onions with the sweet potatoes, then chicken, then everything else..in my Instant pot.
    Set it to manual 45 minutes.
    let it come off pressure naturally.
    took meat out, pulled off any fat and veins, and bones. returned meat to put, have it a stir and served… yum

  • Flo

    I made this in the pressure cooker this evening and it is delicious. Browned the chicken in the bottom of the pressure cooker, proceeded with the recipe, then instead of simmering for 90 minutes I left it at pressure for 30. I let the pressure drop naturally but only because I was doing dishes and not in a rush.

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