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Sierra Leone & Kenya: Groundnut Stew with Ugali

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Ingredients

Adjust Servings:
Groundnut Stew
1 medium whole chicken skinned and chopped into 8 pieces; alternatively, I think chicken thighs would work well and be less hassle.
1 tsp Kosher Salt + more to taste
1 tsp black pepper
5 Tbsp peanut oil
1 scotch bonnet pepper if you can't find this at your grocer, you can substitute a habernero
1 large yellow onion
5 cloves garlic
2 heaping Tbsp tomato paste
1/2 cup peanut butter smooth
2 cups chicken stock
For the Ugali
2-3 cups fine white cornmeal
7 cups water

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Sierra Leone & Kenya: Groundnut Stew with Ugali

Ingredients

  • Groundnut Stew

  • For the Ugali

Directions

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Today I’m bringing you two recipes for the price of one!  They go so well together I couldn’t bear to separate them. Both come from a beautiful cookbook written by three chefs who launched The Groundnut supper club in London to showcase the African foods of their childhoods and recipes passed down from family across different parts of the continent.  For the first diner they hosted, they served groundnut stew – a rich stew made with peanut butter, onions, and aromatic Scotch bonnet peppers – because it’s a dish that never fails to impress.  They describe this traditional West African stew as something you won’t forget once you’ve tasted it, a dish meant to be shared with others. Groundnuts are peanuts by another name.  You may have tried a West African peanut soup at some point in time and it may or may not have looked like this; its name and ingredients vary by region.

Ugali is the most common meal time starch in Kenya: a stiff porridge made from white cornmeal. Traditionally, ugali was made with millet, but when maize found its way to Africa it replaced it in popularity.  Like the groundnut stew – and many African dishes – it has cousins in various regions such as Southern Africa’s mealie-meal, Zambia’s nshima, and Zimbabwe’s sadza.  Ugali is a great accompaniment to stew, and would generally be eaten by rolling it into small balls with your hands and using it to scoop up the stew.

Recipe Source: Food From Across Africa (cook book)

Steps

1
Done
1 hr 15 minutes

For the Groundnut Stew

Place the chicken pieces into a large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix well.

2
Done

In a large pan or dutch oven, heat 3 Tbsp peanut oil over medium heat. Add the chicken to the pan. You don't want it to overlap much, as this will prevent it from browning. If it does, you can brown the chicken in batches.

3
Done

Pierce the pepper and add it to the pan. This allows the flavors to absorb into the stew. If at any point you worry the stew is becoming to spicy, you can remove the pepper.

4
Done

Turn the chicken over after about five minutes. While the chicken is browning, dice the onions and crush the garlic into a paste. Add about half the garlic to the pan so the chicken and garlic can brown together. When the chicken has browned nicely on both sides, remove it from the pan and set aside.

5
Done

Add the remaining peanut oil to the same pan. Add the diced onions and cook for about 8-10 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the tomato paste and remaining garlic. Mix well and cook for 3-5 minutes, then add the groundnut (peanut) butter and stir.

6
Done

Put the browned chicken back in the pan and add the stock slowly while stirring so that it is incorporated with the sauce. Cook on low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn't stick to the sides. It should reduce slightly and take on a thicker consistency.

7
Done
30 minutes

For the Ugali

Boil 5 cups of water. Meanwhile, mix 1 1/2 cups cornmeal with 2 cups of cold water in a large sauce pan. Put the saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir until mixed well. Add the boiling water and continue stirring until it reaches a boiling point. The liquid should start to thicken, taking on the consistency of porridge, and small air bubbles should slowly form on the surface.

8
Done

Cover the pan, leaving a small gap for steam to escape, and leave gently bubbling for 10 minutes over low-heat. Now gradually add the remaining cornmeal, stirring frequently with a thick wooden spoon for 3 minutes, until mixed well. The amount of cornmeal you add at this point may vary depending on how fast it is cooking. The aim is to achieve a solid substance with a fair bit of give. For me this only took 2.5 cups of cornmeal, which is why you want to add gradually.

9
Done

Leave over low heat for another 10 minutes until it has a slightly solid consistency. It should be solid, but still wobble a little when you shake the pan gently side to side.

10
Done

Fill a large bowl with very cold water. Place a serving spoon in the bowl. Using the spoon, make a scoop of ugali and put it on a flat plate. It will firm up as it cools. Repeat this process, putting the spoon back into the cold water each time before making another scoop.

Johanna

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