African Chicken Peanut Stew

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.

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.

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African Chicken Peanut Stew Recipe

  • Prep: 20 minutes
  • Cook: 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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Showing 4 of 163 Comments

  • Susan Loeb
    It is a great recipe. I made it using a whole chicken cut up and added chopped raw spinach at the end and let it wilt in the sauce - beautiful and delicious. And I like t spicy, so doubled the cayenne and added some very good hot sauce.
  • Blithe
    This recipe looks amazing and I cannot wait to try it! I have one to share that appears very similar but I make as more of thick goulash. I found it in one of my favorite cookbooks from childhood- Cafe Beaujolais cookbook by Margaret Fox. You may appreciate the recipe! 1- medium chicken chopped (I sometimes sue chicken breast only) 1 tsp salt 1 tsp Cayenne 1tsp Coriander 2 TB olive oil 5- medium onions chopped 3 cloves of garlic minced 6- large tomatoes chopped 2TB tomato paste 2 cups of chicken broth (or as much to add desired consitency.) 1 1/2 cups of peanut butter saute chicken and onions and garlic for 15 minutes, add tomatoes (sauce for additional 5 minutes, then mix all together and stir constantly over medium heat. Adjust flavors as needed. You can sub tofu for chicken as well. I usually make two batches. Garnish with chopped peanuts and cilantro. serve on warm rice.
  • 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..
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