West African Chicken in Peanut Sauce (Mafe)
with root vegetables / couscous
While we often think of peanut sauce in Asian dishes, it makes a creamy, flavorful base for a popular West African dish called mafe. Most recently featured in 2016, this comforting stew of chicken and vegetables is flavored with garlic and ginger to complement the rich sauce.
West African Chicken in Peanut Sauce (Mafe):
- Peanuts, roasted and unsalted (opt) - 1/4 cup , chopped
- Sweet potatoes - 3/4 lb , peeled and chopped
- Turnips, small - 2 , peeled and chopped (sub carrots)
- Bell peppers, red - 1/2 , chopped
- Garlic - 2 cloves , minced
- Ginger, fresh - 2 tsp , grated
- Peanut butter, creamy - 1/2 cup
- Tomato paste - 2 Tbsp
- Stock, any type - 2 cups
- Red pepper flakes (opt) - 1/2 tsp
- Chicken breasts, boneless and skinless - 1 lbs , chopped
- Cilantro - 3 Tbsp , chopped
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp
- Limes - 1/2 , juice of
Couscous (for 2 nights):
- Butter - 1 1/2 Tbsp
- Water - 2 cups
- Couscous, uncooked - 1 1/3 cups
- Salt - 1/2 tsp
- Couscous - (This makes enough for 2 nights.) Combine butter and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Stir in couscous and remove from heat. Cover pan and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and season with salt. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Peanuts - If using, roughly chop peanuts. One easy way to do this is by sealing nuts into a Ziploc bag. Then run a rolling pin over them a few times or lightly smash with a tenderizer. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
- Potatoes / Turnips / Bell peppers / Garlic / Ginger - Prep as directed. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Peanut sauce - Whisk together peanut butter, tomato paste, stock, ginger, and red pepper flakes. (Can be done up to 3 days ahead)
- Chicken - Chop into bite-sized pieces, season with some salt and pepper and tenderize with a fork.
- Cilantro - Chop cilantro.
- Place sweet potatoes and turnips into a microwave-safe pan or bowl. Cover with wet paper towel and microwave on high until sweet potatoes are tender, ~3 minutes. (Turnips should still have a bit of crunch.) Season lightly with some salt and pepper.
- Heat a Dutch oven or wok over medium-high heat and add first part of cooking oil. When oil is hot, sear chicken until golden brown on all sides, ~4 minutes total (it may not be cooked all the way through, but will finish in the sauce). Remove from pan and set aside. Return the pan to the burner and reduce heat to medium.
- To hot pan, add second part of oil, garlic, and bell peppers. Saute until garlic is fragrant, ~1 minute.
- Add sweet potatoes, turnips, and peanut sauce and bring to a simmer. Simmer until sauce reduces slightly, ~3 minutes.
- Return chicken to pan, spooning sauce over the top. Continue to simmer (don’t let it boil or the chicken will turn tough) until chicken is cooked through, ~4 minutes more. Season with some salt and pepper.
- Top with lime juice, cilantro, and chopped peanuts.
- Reheat couscous briefly in the microwave (reserve half for Wednesday). If it seems dry, fold in a splash of stock or water.
- Spoon chicken, vegetables, and sauce over couscous and enjoy!