African Chicken Peanut Stew

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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.

african-chicken-peanut-stew-method-1 african-chicken-peanut-stew-method-2

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.

african-chicken-peanut-stew-method-3 african-chicken-peanut-stew-method-4

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 135 Comments

  • Derwin

    I tried this recipe today and didn’t really care for it. I hadn’t eaten a peanut butter based dish before and found that it dominated the taste much more than I expected. Sorry to post a negative comment but I figure that you might appreciate the honesty.

    I’d like to try it again with a modified recipe with an alternative to the peanut butter and peanuts.

    Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Rahere

    The 1960s version, before you could get yams or sweet potato here in the UK, was more reductus yet: my father learned it in the 1940s in the Gold Coast. He started with just raw peanuts, which he shelled and very slowly cooked down to a greyish pottage, and then picked up here. Other more modern versions include sliced red and green peppers, peanut butter, in a Caribbean derivative, coconut milk.
    The problem’s always been keeping the cartilage and small bones from the chicken out of the soup, I’ve heard of some cooks boiling the birds in a bag in the soup before cutting.

  • MaryAlecia

    Hi Elise, I have the leftovers of a roast chicken that i’d like to make for dinner tonight. Have you ever tried to use this kind of meat for the stew? I’m guessing it would work- though the flavor wouldn’t be as deep – to take the meat off the bone and add to the pot 1/2 an hour before it’s done. I’d welcome your expertise!

  • Eva J.

    Hi Elise, this recipe sounds gorgeous; we love sweet potatoes, and I sometimes make a similar enough, though vegetarian, spicy sweet potato & peanut soup which has carrots and peppers. In my experience though the sweet potatoes do not take very long to soften, how do you avoid them turning to mush after 90 minutes?

  • Sandra McMurdo

    This recipe has been a favorite in our house for years. My daughter would request it on days when she had her braces tightened and wanted a “soft food dinner”. I’ve made it in a Dutch oven, crock pot and pressure cooker, and it turns out great every time. Last night, I made a ‘deconstructed’ version, by roasting the sweet potatoes, cutting the ‘stew’ down to a pan sauce and simmering the chicken thighs in it after browning, and making a pesto out of the peanuts and cilantro. It was a big hit! Thanks for such a great recipe and a wonderful blog.

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