African Peanut Stew

Chris and I are going to North Africa in a few weeks. We're headed to the beautiful kingdom of Morocco and there will be cooking lessons, mountain treks, spice market strolls, and more!  I cannot wait. Especially for all of the lovely food!

To get us in the mood (and also because my grocery delivery hadn't yet arrived and we were out of almost everything), I decided to make a lovely stew based on an "African Peanut Stew" recipe from Emeril that I found here.  I had most of the ingredients: chicken broth, coconut milk, sweet potatoes, onions, etc., so I figured it made sense to go this route. Otherwise, we'd be eating Cheerios for dinner, which is not very Moroccan.

I tweaked Emeril's recipe a bit (okay, I tweaked it a lot), using almond butter instead of peanut butter and adding the brown sugar, garlic powder, carrots and peanuts. And, since I didn't have any tomatoes, I used some tomato paste and a jar of restaurant-style salsa, which added the tomato element and some extra spice. I also used my immersion blender to pulverize the peanuts, onions and salsa, leaving behind a few chunks of sweet potato and carrots for texture.  I stirred in a cup of shredded chicken breast near the end instead of the ground turkey, since I didn't have any. On a whim, I decided to use up some of the nearly frozen herbs from my outdoor garden and the addition of the tarragon and thyme really brightened the dish. Cilantro would be nice, too.

Served with some warmed garlic naan that I found in the freezer, it was a pretty lovely weeknight meal that only took about an hour to throw together. Yes, that is much longer than it takes to ready a bowl of cereal, but it was worth every minute. Yum!

Gourmess' African Peanut Stew
1 TBS peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
2 TBS curry powder
2 TBS brown sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and chunked
1/4 cup unsalted peanuts
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups restaurant-style salsa (get medium spicy if you can handle it)
1 TBS tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup almond butter (or peanut butter, but see note below)
1/2 cup coconut milk
Kosher salt
1 cup shredded cooked chicken  breast
2 tsp tarragon
1 tsp thyme

Note: If you use peanut butter instead of the almond butter, go easy on the brown sugar and if needed, add it after you've mixed in the PB.

To Do:
  • Heat the peanut oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. 
  • Add curry powder, brown sugar and garlic powder and cook for 1 minute, stirring often.  
  • Stir in the diced onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Keep stirring.
  • Mix in the sweet potatoes, carrots, peanuts, stock, salsa and tomato paste and bring to a boil. 
  • Cover and lower heat to a simmer for about 25 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender and carrots are starting to soften.
  • Using an immersion blender, carefully purée the soup, avoiding a handful or so of the sweet potatoes and carrots.
  • Add the cayenne, almond butter and coconut milk, and bring to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes more. Salt to taste.
  • Stir in the shredded chicken and simmer for about 5 additional minutes.
  • Carefully taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
  • Before serving, add the herbs and lightly incorporate.
  • Ladle into bowls, being sure to give each serving some of the carrot and potato pieces.
  • Serve with warmed flatbread, naan, or pita bread.