Lately, my CSA has been handing out okra like candy. I've had fried okra before since I lived in North Carolina during grad school, but had never tried to cook it myself. I'm not much of a fryer, so I went online to find something else to do with it, and came across a recipe for West African stew on Epicurious. I love peanut butter in savory dishes, so I thought this would be a winner.
I wasn't disappointed. This was a relatively easy dish, and although I'll be making some changes next time (reflected in the recipe below), there will be a next time. The okra was a little tough, but I think that could be remedied by letting it cook longer. And since okra isn't readily available everywhere or even during all seasons, my husband and I agreed that green beans would be a good substitute.
West African Stew
Adapted from Epicurious
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp salt
1 14-oz can whole tomatoes in juice
1/4 cup water
2 Tbl tomato paste
1/4 cup peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced and mashed with 1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (You can go up to 1 1/4 tsp, but we found that 3/4 tsp gave it a nice kick without overpowering the other flavors.)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
Soy Sauce, to taste
1 lb. squash (or sweet potato)
10 oz okra, fresh or frozen, thawed if frozen
Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Arrange the chicken on several plates or a tray and sprinkle with 1 tsp salt. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
While waiting for the chicken, pulse the tomatoes in their juices in a processor or blender until finely chopped. Stir the 1/4 cup of water with the tomato paste in a small bowl until smooth. Whisk together the peanut butter and 1 cup of broth in another bowl until smooth.
Heat the oil in a 6-7-quart heavy-bottomed pot and brown the chicken over a moderately hot flame in batches, a few minutes on each side. Remove the chicken and drain all but 2 tablespoons of oil. Lower the flame to a moderate heat and add the onions to the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions are golden around the edges, about 2-3 minutes. **At this point you can either leave the chicken breasts whole or cut into several slivers. If serving in a bowl, I suggest the slivers.**
Add the tomato mixture, tomato paste, garlic and cayenne to the onions and mix well. Then add the peanut butter mixture, the remaining 3/4 cup broth, and a couple of splashes of soy sauce and mix. Add the chicken into the sauce. (The chicken may not be covered completely.) Bring to a boil, uncovered, and then reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the chicken is very tender.
**Start cooking your rice now.**
Peel your squash and cut into chunks. Add the squash and okra in the last 10 minutes of cooking and let simmer 10-15 minutes, until the squash is tender, but not falling apart. Remove the okra and cut into thick slices and return to the stew.
Serve over brown rice.
Subscribe to free updates from Mindy's Mouthful