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