West African | Spicy-Sweet Chicken Stew
Posted on July 31, 2014
From Carla Hall's new cookbook Carla's Comfort Foods - Favorite Dishes from Around the World. It's a really good cookbook and right up my alley with the around the world theme. Her ancestors are from Nigeria and her brother-in-law is from Liberia. This dish is based on the flavors of those countries. I cut the amount of chicken in half, bought four pieces rather than breaking down a chicken. Kept the sauce amount the same. I ended up with about half of the sauce leftover. I froze it so that next time I just cook the chicken and add the sauce.
Yield: 4 servings
1 habanero chile
One 28-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes
extra virgin olive oil, for frying
One 3-pound chicken cut into 8 pieces (2 wings, 2 breasts, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs)
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 1/2 cups water (or less)
1 ripe banana, peeled
1 ripe mango, peeled and pitted
Cut a small slit in the chile. This will prevent the seeds from spilling into the stew and making it incredibly hot. Set it aside. Empty the can of tomatoes into a large bowl. Gently squeeze the tomatoes with your hands to crush them into a large chunks. Set the tomatoes aside.
Fill a large Dutch oven or flameproof casserole with oil to a depth of 1/8 inch, and heat it over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. The oil should dimple and have wavy lines. Season the chicken generously with salt and add it to the hot oil, skin side down, spacing the pieces apart. Don't crowd the pan; work in batches if you have to.
Reduce the heat to medium. When the skin is dark golden brown, turn the pieces over. Continue cooking until the bottom is dark golden brown. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a pinch of black pepper to the skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is nice and soft, about 7 minutes.
Stir in the bay leaves, thyme, and habanero chile. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Stir in the water and tomatoes. (Since the water shouldn't cover the skin of the chicken, I tested by putting the chicken in and then adding water. Stop when it about 3/4 a way up the chicken.) Heat to a boil, then adjust the heat to maintain a steady simmer.
Nestle the chicken pieces in the sauce, skin side up, and add any accumulated juices from the plate. The sauce shouldn't cover the skin. Partially cover the pan and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes. If some pieces are done before the others, removed them first and place them on a plate.
While the chicken cooks, puree the banana and mango in a food processor or blender until smooth. Stir the mixture into the sauce when the chicken is done.
Remove and discard the chile and bay leaves from the stew, and serve hot. Serve with rice and salad.
(Ref. "Spicy-Sweet Chicken Stew" recipe, Carla's Comfort Foods - Favorite Dishes from Around the World cookbook, p. 96.)