Hurricane Sandy is heading our way. School has been cancelled and our mayor has warned everyone to stay inside, so the whole family is at home. The dog has been walked. We’ve secured the lawn furniture. The wind is whipping all around us – a perfect scenario for cooking up a delicious hearty stew.
The people of Ghana don’t need a stormy day to be inspired to cook a rich and spicy stew. Despite their tropical climate, stews are among their most common dishes. The Ghanaian name for this one is Hkatenkwan, translated as “ground-nut stew”. It is rich and creamy and full of flavor – a happy mix of sweet, savory and spicy.
The chicken bones enhance the flavor of the stew while it is cooking but are removed before serving.
The peanut butter is first whisked with 2 cups of chicken broth before being added to the stew pot.
The stew simmers for an hour, uncovered, until the chicken is tender and can easily be removed from the bone, shredded, and returned to the pot.
- 4-5 pounds skinless chicken parts, legs and thighs are best, with bones
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 2 medium onions, roughly chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (from a 2-3-inch piece)
- 6 cups peeled ½-inch-cubed sweet potato (about 2 large)
- 2 cups (16 ounces) crushed tomatoes (canned)
- ¾ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 6 cups low-salt chicken broth (see directions before adding)
- 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and chopped for garnish
- ½ cup chopped peanuts, optional garnish
- Rinse chicken parts, pat dry, season with salt and pepper, to taste. Heat oil in a large stew pot or dutch oven till hot, but not smoking. Brown chicken over medium heat in batches, (4-5 pieces at time) about 3 minutes per side. Once chicken is browned, set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to pot (or pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat in the pot) Add onions, garlic and ginger and cook aromatics, stirring till fragrant and softened, about 3 minutes. Return chicken to pot. Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cayenne pepper, and only 4 cups (out of 6) of chicken broth. In a medium sized bowl, whisk the other two cups of broth with the peanut butter until combined. Pour peanut butter mixture into stew pot. Bring stew to a boil. Reduce heat to a steady simmer and cook, uncovered for 1 hour, until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
- Remove stew from heat. Using tongs, lift chicken pieces out of stew, remove meat from bones and shred. Discard bones. Return shredded chicken to stew pot. Season stew with salt and fresh pepper, to taste.
- Ladle soup into shallow bowls. Garnish generously with cilantro and peanuts (optional). Enjoy!