This stew is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Now it’s not going to cause a flavor revolution in your mouth like you might encounter at a fancy restaurant where they have lychee-flavored foam with truffle-scented oils that can be absorbed through your finger tips and which cause your taste buds to go into electric shock. However, it is rich and tasty and comforting, and somehow simple in the best sense of the word. I ate 3 bowls of it the first time I made it. 3 bowls, folks. And though at that point I was quite satisfied in the stomach area, my mouth was already craving more. So I immediately demanded that leftovers be separated into two containers, one for the fridge and one for me to carry to work the next day so that I could have it again as soon as possible, especially since rain and storms were predicted. It’s my idea of comfort food. The recipe was inspired by Kay over at Kayotic Kitchen–click here for the original (Chicken Palava). My variation has squash instead of spinach, some flour for thickening, some more spice, etc. If you’re looking for some serious inspiration, you can count on Kay’s blog to send you running into the kitchen at top speed, where a flurry of cutting boards, knives, pots and pans will quickly result in something incredible.
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 TBS flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 large yellow onion
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 summer squash (yellow squash)
1 red bell pepper
2 large, juicy tomatoes
3 + 1 TBS peanut oil
1 TBS sesame oil
1/4 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp thyme
6 TBS crunchy peanut butter
2 c chicken broth
2 tsp chicken bouillon or base (in addition to the broth)
2 tsp cornstarch + 1 TBS water
Salt, black pepper, and brown sugar to taste
Blanched almond slices and/or cilantro, to garnish
Chop the chicken into smallish cubes and mix it with the peanut oil, sesame oil, ginger, brown sugar, salt, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, chili powder, and flour. Let it marinate for at least 15 minutes. Don’t worry about the seemingly large amount of oil–that will also serve to help cook a ton of veggies.
Roughly chop up the squash and mince the garlic . . .
. . . chop the onion and red pepper . . .
. . . and give the tomatoes a rough chop, too. Keep them separate, because they’ll go in later than the rest of the veggies.
Heat 1 TBS peanut oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. When hot, add the chicken.
Cook for 2 minutes, until the chicken starts to look less raw; your kitchen will immediately start to smell delightful. Add the onion and garlic, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Don’t be frightened by the fuzzy white object in the lower lefthand side of the above picture. It’s just a defenseless oven mitt.
Add the bell pepper and squash. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, and peanut butter. I combined them all in this lovely measuring cup.
Then I poured in the whole shebang. If you didn’t know what the ingredients were up front, this may have looked . . . disturbing. Questionable. Not tasty.
Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and let it simmer gently for 25 minutes, uncovered.
If the stew isn’t thick enough, mix in the cornstarch/water slurry to help it along. At this point, taste and re-season. I added an additional couple teaspoons of brown sugar and a heft, hefty dose of salt and pepper. Don’t underseason! The right amount of salt really brings this dish to life.
Serve over rice with some blanched almonds and cilantro. I didn’t have cilantro on hand . . . but it would be perfect.
Let’s take a bite, shall we?
Have any of you begun to make stews this fall? If there are any recipes you think I must make, please send them my way!
Click here for printer-friendly version: African Peanut Chicken Stew