Peanut Chicken Stew
From Soul Food Love by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams
Reprinted from Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family. Copyright © 2015 by Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams. Photographs copyright © 2015 by Penny De Los Santos. Published by Clarkson Potter, an imprint of Penguin Random House, LLC.
- Servings: 8 to 10.
In their compelling and delicious book, Soul Food Love: Healthy Recipes Inspired by One Hundred Years of Cooking in a Black Family, authors Alice Randall and Caroline Randall Williams bring their family history and the history of many black Americans to their dinner table and ours. But they also bring healthy soul food that that honors their cultural and culinary history while nourishing and pleasing our appetites.
From the headnote for this recipe for Peanut Chicken Stew:
We cannot always trust the written record. According to what was inked on paper, "20 and Odd" Africans arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, in August 1619. And this is the year usually given for the arrival of slaves in Virginia. It is now suspected that these were not the first Africans, only the first documented, and they were not precisely slaves.
So much remains undocumented. Flavors and food close some gaps. One of the most famous dishes from the early colonies is Virginia Peanut Soup. This is documented: Peanuts are indigenous to Peru. They traveled to Africa with Portuguese explorers, then traveled from Africa to North America with enslaved Africans.
West Africa, particularly Senegal and the Gambia, is known for peanut, or groundnut, stews. My mother often talks about how African all Americans are. This soup celebrates that reality. George and Martha Washington were known for their peanut soup. Wonder if they knew they were eating an African classic? The record doesn't tell.
The recipe for Sweet Potato Broth, included below, is very versatile and can be a easy and vegetarian alternative to chicken stock.
- 3 cups chopped cooked chicken
- 1 1/2 cups natural peanut butter
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained, or 3½ cups diced fresh tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 quart Sweet Potato Broth (recipe follows)
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted unsalted peanuts
- Put the chicken, peanut butter, tomatoes, curry powder, and cayenne in a medium pot and pour in the sweet potato broth. Season with salt to taste. Simmer over medium heat until the peanut butter is completely blended and the stew has a thick, even consistency, 20 minutes.
- Ladle the stew into bowls and serve, sprinkling the chopped nuts over the top as a garnish.
Sweet Potato Broth
Makes 1 quart
1 medium onion, sliced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 large sweet potato
5 whole cloves
Salt and pepper
- In a large stockpot, sauté the onion, celery, and carrot in a tablespoon or so of olive oil—just enough to cover the bottom of your pot—over low heat.
- Meanwhile, peel and quarter the sweet potato. When the onion has softened, after about 8 minutes, add the sweet potato to the pot along with 6 cups of water, the cloves, and a little salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the sweet potato is completely soft, about 30 minutes.
- Fish out the cloves, then purée the mixture in a blender or food processor, or if you’re working without fancy tools, by mashing the sweet potato into the side of the pot with a wooden spoon and stirring. If not using immediately, let cool, then cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.