African Chicken Peanut Stew

Soup and StewAfricanGluten-FreePeanut

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

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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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

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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

193 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • Jo

    Great recipe! I did follow it to the letter and it was delicious. I’ve made several variations of this recipe, but this was my favorite!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Jen

    I make this every couple of months, it is absolutely AMAZING. The only thing I leave out is the peanuts and it’s just perfect without it. Making it today! Cant wait.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Justine

    I’ve made this three times so far and it is phenomenal! I don’t bother shredding the chicken- I just cook it until it’s falling apart and I poke the meat off with a fork as I eat it. I don’t skip browning the chicken because the skin is delicious and it gives up some tasty fat to cook the onions in.

    The only thing I do differently is I add the sweet potatoes partway through cooking as they get very soft. However, even if your potatoes get too soft it’s still delicious! Make sure your chicken is really falling off the bone and you won’t be disappointed.

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Angie Barnes

    Excellent recipe! I’ve made this several times in the past month, and everyone I serve it to feels greatly nourished! I add a bit of extra fresh ginger and peanut butter. Sooooo… good!

    xxxxxyyyyy

  • Krystle

    Very good! I’ve made this several times now. Don’t be afraid of the peanut butter and peanuts! It all comes together beautifully. I’m a busy mom with a toddler, so I’m all about cooking from scratch BUT saving time where possible. I bought pre-cubed sweet potato, and I halved the recipe which still makes more than enough for the fourth of it. I also agree with some others that it’s not necessary to brown the chicken first. I also think you can get boneless chicken without missing out on anything, and that makes it much easier to chop or shred and add back to the pot. However, I do recommend thights or dark meat instead of breasts/white meat. It just adds some extra flavor and richness. As I have IBS and my daughter has Crohn’s, we leave out the cayenne and it still has plenty of flavor for us. Great with Basmati rice. Thanks!

    xxxxxyyyyy

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