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

189 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  • 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

  • David Marshland

    To Mina
    When I was a child in Ghana and Nigeria you could buy the roasted peanuts done on a griddle over a wood fire by the side of the road. At home we used to toast them under the grill for a few minutes.
    I still prefer them to the prepared “roasted” peanuts sold in packets. Try it. Only a couple of minutes or less or they burn. They also used to do bananas on the same griddle.
    My parents would never let me have any of the groundnut stew.

  • Kandi

    Someone please help me! :-( I really wanted to love this stew but unfortunately I burned it. I got so confused by the instructions when it said to bring it to a simmer and then let it simmer gently. I’m pretty sure that I turn the heat up too high and then triedto take it down to the lowest setting but it was too late. Ughh!

    I was able to salvage a good deal of it and boy was it delicious! I definitely want to make this again but I need more clarity on what setting to get it to simmer (shouldn’t I see small bubbles?) and then at what setting to let it simmer gently. Please advise. Thanks!

  • Mina

    Is it important to use plain roasted peanuts rather than dry roasted peanuts? The dry roasted ones I am thinking of are coated in paprika, garlic, turmeric, cinnamon etc. Would that interfere with the other flavours or would it work well? thanks.

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