Friday, September 30, 2016

Week 39 - West African

For the West African challenge, I decided to make a chicken peanut stew based on a recipe I found on Simply Recipes. That stew was based on a Ghanaian chicken groundnut stew and sounded really delicious. I remembered that I had made an African peanut stew sometime in the past, but completely forgot that it was for a previous challenge meal and also didn't realize how similar it was until I re-read that post after making this. (Even funnier, it was the Week 39 challenge also, 2 years ago.) While I guess I could have tried making something more complicated like dishes we got during our Nigerian dinner, I went for something a little easier, with more accessible ingredients, and that I was fairly sure I wouldn't screw up. I guess I also just have a liking for African peanut stew.

The ingredients for the stew we made, adapted from the original, were:

- about 1 tbsp olive oil ($0.20)
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts ($3)
- salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 1 yellow onion, sliced ($0.50)
- 2 spoonfuls crushed garlic ($0.25)
- 1-2 tsp ginger paste ($0.30)
- 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped ($1.96)
- 4 cups water ($0)
- 2 large spoonfuls chicken bouillon ($0.50)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (not drained) ($0.75)
- 1 cup roasted peanuts ($1.30)
- 1 cup peanut butter ($0.80)
- about 1 tbsp ground coriander (whatever was left in the jar) ($0.25)
- about 1 tsp cayenne (should have used more) ($0.05)
- about 1/2 cup chopped cilantro ($0.90)

The total for this stew was approximately $10.81, which is a really good price for the amount of stew it made and how full we were. If you added another sweet potato and a little bit more of some of the other ingredients, you could probably stretch this to two meals and stick the other half in the freezer.

The steps for making the stew were:

- heat olive oil in large pot
- slice chicken into thinner pieces and sprinkle with salt/pepper on one side
- add to pot in single layer and sprinkle with salt/pepper on other side
- brown chicken, flipping halfway through, and then remove to plate
- while chicken is cooking, slice onion, peel and chop sweet potatoes

- add onion to pot and cook for a few minutes, scraping off browned bits while cooking
- add crushed garlic and ginger paste and cook another minute
- add sweet potatoes and cook for a few minutes
- add chicken back to pot along with water, chicken bouillon, diced tomatoes, peanuts, peanut butter, ground coriander, cayenne, salt, pepper, and mix together well
- bring to boil and then reduce heat to simmer
- simmer covered for 60 minutes
- at some point during the cooking, chop cilantro

- remove cover and allow stew to keep simmering while removing chicken pieces (sweet potatoes should be really soft by now, but if not cook longer)
- shred chicken with 2 forks and return to pot, stir well
- add half of the cilantro to the stew and mix in well
- the original recipe said to add more black pepper here (as peppery as you can stand) but I forgot
- ladle soup into bowls and garnish with the rest of the cilantro

This stew was so good. I forgot how filling sweet potatoes can be, since we don't eat them enough, and ate way too much stew. Even after that, there was still plenty left for another meal. It was warm and comforting, perfect as we're getting into cooler weather, and so full of flavor. I think next time I would probably add some more cayenne and black pepper, and maybe garnish it with some chopped peanuts on top as well (similar to the H&H Senegalese chicken with peanut soup). I'm also not sure if it really needs the cilantro on top, which would make the process even easier (and I am always looking for easier on a weeknight!). I would definitely make this again.

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