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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Adventures in Okra: West African Stew

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
Brown rice

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.

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Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction September 6, 2009 at 3:19 PM  

Yum! I also love peanuts in savory dishes! I wish we had some okra from our CSA, but that doesn't seem to be a veggie that they are farming here. I like it in soups.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen September 8, 2009 at 9:11 AM  

You made the humble little okra look so beautiful. Bravo.

Chef Fresco September 8, 2009 at 10:00 PM  

I think i've only ever had okra fried. I'd love it this way though!

Chef E September 9, 2009 at 1:39 AM  

I love this recipe! I love it anyway I can get it...and have picked my friends, for which we pickled it, but I could go for this!

Jamie September 9, 2009 at 3:56 AM  

Yay Mindy! I've been thinking about you and was thrilled to see you back! How's the life change?

This is an amazing dish and I love the flavors. I am stepping gingerly into African cooking and this looks perfect! I think I will try this one!

Welcome back, Mindy!

Lori September 10, 2009 at 7:03 AM  

I've never been one for fried okra, but I finally got the chance to try Frango com Quiabo in Brazil. Chicken with okra stew. I loved the flavor of the okra in it. Given the African influences in the northern part of the country I have a feeling these two dishes have similar roots. Looks great!

Laura in Paris September 15, 2009 at 2:41 PM  

I have never cooked ocra, gotta try it, I guess .. your recipe sound very well adapted!

Sarah September 15, 2009 at 6:42 PM  

I have actually made this for a friend from chad! It was delicious and I would highly reccomend it to anyone!!

Leo5 January 30, 2020 at 1:08 AM  

Thanks for the wonderful share. Your article has proved your hard work and experience you have got in this field. Brilliant .i love it reading.

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