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Braised Chicken with Spicy Peanut Sauce

In the new world peanuts, or groundnuts as they are sometimes called, we're first widely used in cooking by African slaves.  Native to South America and the Caribbean, peanuts were introduced by European explorers to Africa in the 1500s, and they were quickly adopted as a nutritious source of protein, calories and fat.  These same Africans then brought their cooking techniques back to the new world as slaves, and peanuts quickly became a popular "poor mans" food.

This stew probably contained many local vegetables such as okra, sweet potatoes and peppers, when first brewed up in the Caribbean and the southern United States, to add bulk and additional nutrients.  You should feel free to experiment freely.  Also, if you wish be true to the heritage of the dish, you may want to make your own peanut butter but store bought works just fine.

This recipe was adapted from one by Tanya Holland, and the Food TV Network.

3 tablespoons    peanut oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
8 to 10 fresh    chicken thighs (as many as the skillet holds in one layer)
2 medium    onions, diced
5 medium    carrots or 3 cups, sliced 1/4-inch thick on bias
4 cloves    garlic, mashed
1-inch fresh    ginger, peeled
1˝ cups    chopped tomatoes
6 cups    chicken stock or broth (see notes)
2 teaspoons    dried thyme
1 medium Scotch Bonnet pepper, finely minced (or more to taste)
1 cup    creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons    tomato paste
˝ cup roasted    unsalted peanuts, chopped for garnish
Salt and pepper    to taste

Preheat oven to 325°.

Mix 2 tablespoons of the oil with the thyme, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Rub the seasoned paste over all of the chicken pieces and set aside.  Heat the remaining oil until very hot in a lidded, oven proof skillet large enough to hold all ingredients.

Brown the chicken well on both sides, about 10 minutes total.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Drain off excess fat. Melt the butter and sauté onions for about 8 minutes until soft while scraping the pan to free up all of the browned chicken bits. Add carrots (and any additional vegetables you may wish), garlic, ginger and tomatoes. Add 2 cups of hot chicken stock and the Scotch Bonnet chile.

In a separate bowl, whisk peanut butter and tomato paste into remaining 2 cups of stock (see notes) and add to the pan. Add the chicken back to the pan. Bring to boil, and place in the oven and allow to simmer for 2 hours.

Remove the chicken pieces and pour the sauce into a blender and whirr a couple of times to thicken the sauce (or use a wand blender right in the pan.)

Return all to pan and test for salt and pepper.  This can be served over rice, potatoes or noodles.

Notes:

  1. The amount of broth to use will be just enough to mostly cover the chicken pieces.
  2. Using heated broth will help the peanut butter to dissolve.

 

 

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