West African Chicken & Peanut Stew: Chicken Mafé

I was speaking with a new friend I made from France recently and we exchanged what he and his family were both cooking up for dinner. He told me he was having mafé, a stew made of lamb and peanut butter, but the dish didn’t register in my foodie brain. What?! A West African staple? A national dish of Senegal? How could I not know this?

As it turns out, I made a similar stew several years ago thanks to Carla Hall of Top Chef and The Chew fame. She called it Groundnut Stew and made it with chicken instead. It was SCRUMPTIOUS, but much more of a challenge to make, and actually a little bit different with adzuki beans and a pureed consistency. 

So have I heard of mafé? Sort of, but I didn’t realize how many variations there were of this dish, with different proteins and vegetables, like cassava, okra, turnips, squash, or even eggplant in place of the potatoes and yams. And in cooking this dish, I realize that with ten years of cooking under my belt, often international cuisine, it’s so amazing to still be able to cook different things and to know that there are different dishes I’ve never even heard of have never even fully recognized. I’m SO looking forward to the next 10 years of my cooking journey and can’t wait to keep sharing it with you! 

Below is my recipe for mafé with chicken. I was really tempted to make it with lamb, but I just had lamb the other day, and wanted to take it easy on the red meat for the rest of the week. Lamb mafé is definitely on the menu down the road! 

West African Chicken & Peanut Stew: Chicken Mafé 

Time: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes (+ Overnight Marinade)
Serves 8

Ingredients
1 lb boneless chicken thighs
1 lb skin-on chicken drumsticks
4 tbsp garlic, finely chopped, divided
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 Scotch bonnet chili, or habanero pepper, finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
6 birdseye chili peppers, chopped
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, roughly chopped
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
4 tablespoons fish sauce
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 cup creamy unsweetened peanut butter
¼ cup lemon juice
2.5 cups cabbage, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 1/2 small cabbage)
1.5 cups carrots, chopped into 1-inch pieces (about 5 small carrots)
1 medium yam or sweet potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large boiling potato, cut into 1-inch chunks
Steamed rice or couscous, to serve

To Garnish
1 Vine ripe tomato, chopped
3 birdseye chilies, finely chopped
2 limes, cut into 8 wedges

Directions
In a large mixing bowl, add chicken thighs and drumsticks. Season with salt and pepper and rub with 2 tbsp of garlic, ginger, and scotch bonnet or habenero chili (using gloves!). Marinate overnight.

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, 2 tbsp garlic, and birdseye chilies. Season with kosher salt to taste, and cook, stirring until onion is soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add thyme, tomato paste, and fish sauce, and simmer, stirring to combine, about 3 minutes. Add chicken broth, bay leaf, and the chicken thighs and drumsticks. Bring back to a simmer and stir, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom. Slowly stir in peanut butter, bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Once the sauce has reduced some and the chicken has cooked through, add add lemon juice, cabbage and carrots, and simmer for 10 minutes. Finally, add yams and potatoes, and simmer for an additional 30 minutes, until the oil begins to separate and the sauce has reduced.

Serve stew over steamed rice or couscous. Garnish with birdseye chilies, tomatoes, and a wedge of lime. Adjust seasonings as needed.

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Koshary: Egyptian Rice, Pasta, and Lentils with a Tomato Garlic Sauce

Egyptian Koshary! I love to travel through food because I can’t possibly travel around the world as much as I want to. One of my Instagram friends is an aspiring chef from Egypt. We talk about food often and he’s as passionate as anyone about cooking. So when he asked me to make Egypt’s most famous street food, it was a no brainer. This stuff is full of carbo-loading deliciousness, and is also vegan! Although Adrian did try it with a fried egg, and that was super delicious as well. I definitely plan to eat this a few nights in a row before a race if I ever run another marathon again, haha. But it’s also bringing back some memories from Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations episode in Cairo, and between that imagery and this good stuff,  I feel like I"m almost there, right now. Many thanks to my buddy for the suggestion! 

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Koshary: Egyptian Rice, Pasta, and Lentils with Tomato Garlic Sauce

Time: 1 Hour
Serves: 4-6

Ingredients
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
4 tbsp vinegar, divided
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup basmati rice, washed to remove excess starch
2 oz spaghetti
1 cup macaroni
1 cup brown (or green) lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 cups canola oil
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 small yellow onion, minced
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water

Directions
Add chickpeas, 2 tbsp vinegar, coriander, cayenne, cumin, and ginger to a large bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.

Prepare your rice in a rice cooker, or alternatively, in a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Add basmati rice and stir. When water returns to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover for 15 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork and transfer to chickpea mixture, stirring to combine. 

While rice cooks, combine lentils and 4 cups water in a medium saucepan with 1/4 tsp salt. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer stirring occasionally, until lentils are al dente and almost tender, about 18 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl with rice and chickpea mixture. Stir to combine.

Bring a pot of boiling salted water to a boil. Add spaghetti and macaroni, and boil for 9-10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, add flour and season with salt and pepper. Lightly coat onion slices in flour and set aside on another plate. 

In a large heavy skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion slices and fry in batches until brown and crisp, being careful not to overcrowd skillet. Remove from skillet with tongs and blot on paper towels. Set onions aside and reserve 2 tbsp oil.

Heat reserved oil in another medium skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add minced onion and cook until soft, about 6 minutes. Add tomato sauce and vinegar and simmer until sauce reduces, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve, divide pasta between bowls. Top with rice, lentil, and chickpea mixture. Ladle over tomato sauce and garnish with fried onions. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and maybe even a little extra vinegar if you’re into that! Oh, and maybe a little chili garlic sauce or sriracha :)

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Mushroom Tacos with Roasted Chilies and Corn

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the healthiest tacos you have ever seen! These vegetarian tacos with mushrooms, corn, and chili peppers are tasty and full of textures that will please even the most stubborn meat eater. You can probably taste the flavor from here, but if you’re not sure, these tacos have all that roasted yumminess you’d expect with an additional scrumptious bite from the corn and mushrooms.

Adrian and I left a note on our recipe a while back that these tacos are also the most gourmet tacos that we make, and we still agree. So now it’s your turn to tell me, are these on your list for Taco Tuesday yet? It’s only Friday now, so you have plenty of time to prepare!

 

Mushroom Tacos with Roasted Chilies and Fresh Corn

Serves 4
Time: 30 Minutes

Ingredients
3 Anaheim and/or poblano chili peppers
1 poblano chili, charred over gas flame, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 ear corn, kernels removed from cob (about 1 cup)
Olive oil, about 2 tbsp, divided
Sea salt
1/2 white onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, minced
12 corn tortillas
6 oz baby bella mushrooms, stems removed, roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh epazote leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup feta, cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/4 cup Roasted tomato salsa, divided
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated

Directions
Char chilies over gas burner on all sides. Place in a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let cool. Peel (do not wash) and cut into 1/2 inch dice.

In a small bowl, add corn, 1 tsp olive oil, and a pinch of salt.

Heat a large dutch oven or heavy skillet over high heat. Spread out corn in pan and roast for about 30 seconds until slightly blackened. Set corn kernels aside.

Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the same pan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and reserved chilies and saute, until onions are soft and begin to brown, about 6-8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Meanwhile, lightly fry corn tortillas and blot on paper towels.

Add 1/2 tbsp olive oil to the same pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add the reserved chilies, corn, and feta, and stir in epazote. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, spoon about 1/4 cup vegetables onto each tortilla. Dollop with salsa, cilantro, and garnish with parmesan. Serve immediately.

Flat Iron Steak with Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

 

This dish is hands down the most summery meal I’ve made all season! The flavors of the steak and the sherry vinegar glaze are outstanding, and I will say that I decorated this dish after eating a few bites of the steak, and was in such awe of my creation that my artistic abilities certainly overtook me

Below is the recipe! It’s so delicious and easy to make that you might as well take a trip to the store after work and make it tonight!

 

Flat Iron Steak with Yellow Squash and Tomatoes

Serves 4
Time: 20 Minutes

Ingredients
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1.5 lbs flat iron steak, cut into 4 (6 oz) steaks
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 medium yellow squash, halved
2 medium tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup sherry (or balsamic) vinegar
2 tsp light brown sugar

Directions
Pat steaks dry and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Heat a large skillet or dutch oven on medium-high with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add squash and sauté for about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and garlic and sauté for another 2 minutes, or until squash is tender. Set aside.

In the same pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add steak pieces when oil shimmers and cook until browned, about 2-3 minutes per side for medium-rare. Set aside and cover with foil for about 10 minutes to let steak rest before slicing.

In the same pan, add vinegar, sugar, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.

Slice steak when well rested. Serve drizzled with sherry/balsamic glaze and with squash and tomato sauté on the side.

Fettuccine with Guanciale and Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

 

Sometimes your best meals are impromptu and deliciously unexpected. Adrian and I were really hungry, but weren’t sure we had anything on hand to make for dinner. That is… until we saw a bunch of ripe tomatoes and fresh basil in our garden, begging to be cooked up into a sauce!

We found that we had a partially used box of fettuccine noodles, a little bit of parmesan, and frozen guanciale from a lovely farm in Davis. Scouring our pasta recipes, we adapted one by by Scott Conant featured on Serious Eats, but simplified it a bit. I’m not kidding when I say that this is definitely the most delicious pastas we’ve ever made and possibly ever eaten (sorry Scott!). I can’t quite vouch for this being the healthiest thing you’ll eat all week, but that’s okay on occasion! A little guanciale or bacon every now and then is perfectly fine. Just serve this one with a side salad, and this Diet Assassinista says you’re good to go.

 

Fettuccine with Guanciale and Garden Fresh Tomato Sauce

Serves 4-6
Time: 45 Minutes

Ingredients
Ripe plum tomatoes, 20
Ice
Olive oil, 3 tbsp
Butter, 2 tbsp
Crushed Red Pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
Garlic, 6 cloves, chopped
Basil, 1 small bunch, chopped
Guanciale, ½ cup, chopped
1 lb. dry fettuccine noodles
Parmesan Reggiano, 1 oz , about ½ cup , grated

Directions
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Have a large bowl of ice water nearby. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato. Ease about 5 tomatoes in the pot and cook. Let boil for about 15 seconds or until skins appear loose and promptly move them into the waiting ice water. Do this with remaining tomatoes.

Pull off the skin of the tomatoes with the tip of a pairing knife. Cut the tomatoes in half, squeeze tomatoes to take the seeds and a little juice out. Reserve juice if needed to thin pasta later.

In a wide pan, heat olive oil and butter over medium heat until hot. Add garlic and sauté until soft, 30-60 seconds. Add the tomatoes. Stir in basil, guanciale, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and season very lightly with the salt and pepper. Let the tomatoes cook for a few minutes to soften and then use a potato masher to break them up finely. Cook the tomatoes for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and the sauce has thickened.

Cook fettucine noodles in separate pot to 90% of doneness, reserving ½ cup pasta water. Add noodles to tomato sauce and cook for about 3 minutes, until sauce is incorporated. If dry, add some reserved tomato juice and/or pasta water. Serve pasta garnished with parmesan and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

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