The best known Sub-Saharan chicken stew, at least in America, is Ethiopian doro wot, This is a dish with a long ingredients list—complicated by many of them being hidden inside several spice blends. There are, however, many other Sub-Saharan countries, everyone of which has their own version of chicken stew.
For this dish, I wanted a simple, everyday chicken stew. Looking at several stews calling themselves African chicken stews. I decided on a basic recipe. I wanted something that would be made in a Sub-Saharan village, not some European chef’s idea of what it should be. Watching Chie’s video convinced me that browning the chicken well was the true secret of a good African chicken stew.
After Dinner Note: This was a tasty and very filling stew. While it is a one-pot meal, I also made a spinach soup to go with it.
Karl’s Sub-Saharan African Chicken Stew
1 chicken, cut into large pieces
1 tsp. Kosher salt, separate uses
1 Tbs. peanut oil
2 large yellow onions, fine chopped
5 cloves garlic
2 Tbs. ginger, grated
2 tsp. coriander, ground
2 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. black pepper
½ tsp. Piri-piri sauce
2 cups chicken broth
¾ cup smooth peanut butter
1 lb. waxy potato, ½ inch dice (I used Dutch yellow baby potatoes)
1 lb. jewel yam, ½ inch dice (A.K.A. sweet potato)
1. Cut the chicken in to pieces and salt them well.
Tip: Separate the legs and wings. Cut the breasts into 4-5 pieces and cut the thighs in half. Leave as much of the skin on as you can. Trim off any loose flaps, but keep any that is firmly attached to the meat.
Note: I start with a whole chicken and keep the bits—back, wing tips, giblets, and loose skin—for a later chicken stock.
2. Heat the oil to a large Dutch oven, and brown the chicken well on all sides over a medium high heat.
Tip: You may have to do this in batches and it should take about 15 minutes per batch.
Note: You want a least patches of dark brown skin and flesh and a good fond in the bottom of the pot when you are done.
3. Transfer the finished chicken pieces to a plate and reserve.
4. Fry the onions with the rest of the salt, over a medium high heat, until they are well caramelized.
Tip: The salt helps the onions release their liquid quickly and speeds up their browning.
Note: Use the onion’s liquid to deglaze the pot.
5. Pull the onions to the sides of the pot and add the garlic and ginger to the hole in the center.
6. Sauté the garlic for one minutes, then add the spices and piri-piri sauce.
7. Stir one cup of the broth into the pot.
8. Put the peanut butter and ½ cup of broth into a 2 cup microwave-safe measuring cup and heat it for one minute.
Tip: This warms the peanut butter and makes it easier to turn it into a smooth sauce.
9. Stir the sauce into the pot.
Tip: Use the last half cup of broth to rinse out the measuring cup and add it to the pot.
10. Nestle the chicken pieces into the sauce, cover the pot, and transfer it to a 350º F oven.
Tip: Scrape any released juices into the pot. If you rinse the plate with water or broth use as little as possible.
Note: You do not want to add too much liquid to the pot. The chicken will release a fair amount of juices, but you want the finished sauce to be fairly thick.
11. Bake the chicken for 35-45 minutes, undisturbed.
12. Stir in the cubed potatoes and yams.
Tip: If the sauce seems too dry add more broth as needed, but the final stew should be thick.
Note: Once you have stirred in the potatoes, do stir the stew any more. You do not want to break the chicken pieces into shreds.
13. Recover the pot and continue baking for 20-30 minutes more, undisturbed.
Tip: Cook until the potatoes are cooked through.
14. Serve the stew from the Dutch oven.